Joseph Seif releases dynamic pair of sonatas

In Joseph Seif’s dynamic pair of sonatas, artistic communication is left exclusively up to the keys in a set of eight exercises in evocation that simply leave no room for lyrics. Seif has far too much to say to limit himself to the poetic linguistics of a standard pop format in Piano Sonata No. 1, the larger suite between the two records, and in Piano Sonata No. 2, he chases minimalist themes that go apply as much surrealism to the scope of a melody as they do a postmodern sense of emotion, making it possible for both audiophiles and occasional listeners to enjoy it fully and completely. 

No. 2’s second movement, “Adagio in D-Flat Major,” takes something simple and turns it into a symphony of sounds almost too intense for us to indulge on more than once in a week’s time. The third movement in No. 1, on the other hand, is a feast of menacing melodicism that we could sample from every day, were our constitution strong enough to withstand its rich textures on a regular basis. Joseph Seif isn’t playing games on either of these two records – if anything, he’s playing to the very soul of classical music itself.


Both of these sonatas were beautifully mixed, as were No. 1’s additional content in “Adagio in A Minor” and “The Fountain at Huntington Park,” and while they lack any of the embellishments that I’ve come to accept as standard inclusions in contemporary releases of this genre and style, they don’t feel all that barebones by comparison. When Seif is striking away at the opening salvo of Piano Sonata No. 1, “I. Allegro in C-Sharp Minor,” we don’t need any of the extra oomph that a soundboard would provide as to experience the passion that he’s pouring into every key. There’s something spiritual about his connection with the piano in No. 2’s opening movement as well, “Allegro Moderato in C Minor,” and to be frank, there isn’t any example that I can point to in either record where Seif trails from the focused trajectory that he starts us off with (which is something that even lifelong players struggle to maintain).


Classical fans everywhere would be quite wise to take a long listen of Joseph Seif’s Piano Sonata No. 1 and Piano Sonata No. 2, as each gives us a picture window into the heart of a composer and performer who is living out the vibrancy of his craft through every stitch of sound he commits to master tape. There’s a level of maturity in his play that I don’t hear a lot of in any genre, and among the ranks of burgeoning classical players, he’s someone that I can see doing some great things in the next few years. We’re living in the dawn of a new decade in popular music, and as I see it, with the talents that he so obviously has, now is the perfect time for him to be pursuing the limelight via the powerful thrust of a piano’s melody.

Nicole Killian

Photo Credit: Philip Cheung

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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