William Joseph: Within (2004)
Classical music isn't treated the way it used to be. That's good, because many artists have deviated from their classical training. Among other reasons, they tire of playing the same compositions the same way every time. However, there are a few who make classical music fresh, merging it with other styles, whether it be rock, pop, or jazz.
One of these fresh sounds comes from pianist William Joseph. Following the mold set by such acts as the four-girl string quartet known as Bond and soloist Lucia Micarelli, Joseph delivers an elegant selection of original songs, classical covers and creative interpretations of some classic rock titles. On Within , the 25-year-old Phoenix, Arizona native's debut album, Joseph presents eleven tracks that demonstrate range and versatility. Produced and featuring two songs co-written by legendary artist, producer, and talent scout David Foster, Within travels a long distance in a short time. It covers plenty of ground, going from classical beauty to contemporary excitement.
The album opens with the title song, which Joseph performed during a 2003 rehearsal for a charity event honoring Muhammad Ali. Foster heard the tune and asked Joseph to perform that evening. After it drew a standing ovation, he knew he had to work with the young pianist. The result is diverse, yet palatable to classical ears.
The traditional classical pieces that Joseph covers are Chopin's "Eternal" and Bach's "Ave Maria." Micarelli joins for exceptional violin solos on the latter, as well as the cover of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir." Joseph also visits the rock world with interpretations of "Butterflies and Hurricanes," which was previously recorded by UK rock group Muse, and Kansas' "Dust in the Wind." Joseph and Foster co-wrote "Stella's Theme" and the album's closer, "Grace."
"I had huge expectations going into the studio," Joseph says, "and they were hugely exceeded. I really feel as if the sessions got to the heart of my music; how different styles can be brought together to create something greater than the sum of its parts." Indeed. Whether covering classical music, classic rock or offering one of the originals, Joseph's ability to adapt, delivering clear and precise tones, has a given an album that charms, fascinates, and excites.
Track Listing: Within, Eternal, Stella's Theme, Butterflies and Hurricanes, Ave Maria, Kashmir, Homeward Bound, Piano Fantasy, Se Si Perde Un Amore, Dust in the Wind, Grace
Personnel: William Joseph, piano; Brandon Jenner, acoustic guitar; Lucia Micarelli, violin; Nina Katova, cello; Jochem van der Saag, programming, sound design and synths; Neil Devor, additional programming; orchestra arranged and conducted by Chris Boardman