Spiritual Piano: Message Music
Steven C Music- Steven C’s Spiritual Piano breaks away from his usual musical motif in several ways: One is the abundant presence of accompanists (on mandolin, violin, fretless bass, percussion, and guitar), and the other is the music’s instantly engaging accessibility, almost approaching the breezy New Age pop sound of Wayne Gratz. Some of Steven C’s recent offerings were more anchored in a neo-classical style, so this new direction should open up his fan base considerably. According to the liner notes, the CD is quite personal to him and is aimed at helping listeners take their own spiritual journey. This particular journey is rich and rewarding indeed. Spiritual Piano is an exceptional piano and ensemble album!
-Bill Binkelman – New Age Retailer
STEVEN C MUSIC – In the world of New Age music, it’s always great to discover a major new talent. Case in point is the 2011 CD from piano virtuoso Steven C. For the release of his Spiritual Piano album, Steven has crafted an album filled with energy, intention and emotion. More than just an album filled with beautiful sounds and soothing music, Spiritual Piano is described by the artist as “message music” that is filled with a higher good that seeks to inspire, heal, relax and motivate. Steven C’s Spiritual Piano CD is a vital new discovery for fans of enlightening New Age style piano music that enables the listener to meditate, imagine, dream and simply be. Life is hectic, so if you’re looking to relax in style, give a listen and chill with the intuitive, healing piano sound of Steven C. www.StevenCMusic.com
– Robert at Music Web Express 3000-http://www.mwe3.com/archive/pastfeature/featureMusicRevJune2011.htm
I admit it. I am die-hard romantic. I cried (actually sobbed is more like it) when I got to end of reading The Bridges of Madison County. I cry every time at the end of Children of a Lesser God, and I even tear up when Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan find true love in Sleepless in Seattle. What does this have to do with pianist Steven C’s Heart Strings CD? Simple – this is an album (of instrumental piano and orchestral strings) for lovers. Now, I don’t mean just lovey-dovey look in their eyes lovers. I mean anyone who has ever been in love, is in love, or even dreams about being in love. If you love sunsets, if you love walks on the beach, if you love cool, crisp, grey autumn days (I do), then you are a romantic and might as well face it. And, if you also enjoy warm, emotionally rich piano music accented with strings (and not samples, these are the real deals), then you will almost certainly enjoy Heart Strings.
Steven C.’s recording studio is (almost) a stone’s throw from my “day job” workplace (Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota). However, I’m not being a homer when I state how much I enjoy this recording. Seldom do pianists in the “new age” genre know how to apply strings to their piano music as aptly as “C” does (his real last name is Anderson – fitting for Minnesota, doncha know). Never melodramatic, maudlin, sappy or over the top, Anderson integrates the assorted strings (sometimes as solo instruments, sometimes as an entire section) with his flowing melodies with an uncommon dexterity and skill. He should teach this artistry to a few others, whose names will not be uttered.
I first became aware of Steve C. when picked up (yes, I sometimes PAY for CDs) a recording off of a Target kiosk that combined a thunderstorm with solo piano (entitled Summer Thunder). It remains to this day one of the favorite “nature sounds with music” recordings in my permanent library. Well, that song is on this disc (“First Light”) and it’s not even the best track on the CD! How’s that for an endorsement?
Going back to Heart Strings, the CD is simply wonderful to immerse yourself in when you are in a dreamy reflective state but not restricted to melancholic or somber music. From the opening sweetly flowing “My Angel,” to the catchy refrain of the subsequent “Embraced,” and wending through the romantic strains of “Chloe,” the Eastern European influences on “Sundown” (with its hints of gypsy music influence) and the somber “Too Many Hats” and ending with the almost gushingly lovely “Wedding Day White” and its spot-on processional flow (you should be able to discern Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” in there), Steven Anderson shows almost unbelievable restraint in how he layers the strings in with his piano. With nary a hint of cloying sentimentality or schmaltzy melodrama, the pianist paints these truly romantic soundscapes, one after another, all nigh irresistible for those who enjoy this type of music. If you love piano and string accompaniment (unless you are a burned out relic of a cynic), Heart Strings will send your spirit soaring to new heights, borne on recalled moments of joy, and your soul will reflect inward on memories long forgotten.
Rating: Very Good+
2007 / Steven C. Music
“Signature” is a beautiful collection of fifteen original piano solos by Steven C. (Anderson). An established and respected recording artist who has sold well over two million records, performed with Mannheim Steamroller, and whose music has been used extensively on television, Steven states that although you might not be familiar with his name, you have heard his music. (I heard it sending greeting cards from virtualflorist.com!!!) Recorded on an incredible Bosendorfer grand piano, the sound quality of the album is as clear, clean, and expressive as the music itself. Accessible without becoming simplistic, the graceful, uplifting melodies will appeal to those who love the soothing, emotional quality of the piano. There are no virtuoso pyrotechnics here, but that would ruin the mood! I hope that “Signature” is the first of a series of solo piano recordings, as this is already one of my favorite CDs of 2008.
The title tune opens the CD and establishes a mood of ease and reflection. Bringing images of a romantic slow dance or maybe watching a sunset, this is the beginning of a great CD. “Daybreak” paints a picture of the warmth and optimism of a new day. >From the relaxed pace, this must be a weekend morning! “Deep Within” is one of my favorites. A little darker and more intense, it reminds me of some of David Lanz’s music – truth from the piano. “Miracles” is a lovely ode to the wonder and awe of the unexpected – gentle but very powerful. “Meeting Of the Souls” is another favorite. Mysterious but also very playful, there are several themes that intertwine, perhaps representing the various souls meeting on the common ground of the music. “Scenes From Summit” returns to the dark side with a melancholy piece that comes from the heart. Deeply emotional and completely honest, I really love this one. “Hopeful” gracefully expresses the feeling of cautious optimism that is hope. “’Til Death Do Us Part” is a tender love song without words. “Journey of the Golden Rule” is another favorite, this one lighthearted and innocent, with the opening and closing theme slightly reminiscent of “The Feather Theme” from “Forrest Gump” (more in spirit than in the sound of the piece). It gives a gentle closing that leaves you wishing the CD wouldn’t end.
“Signature” is the first of Steven C.’s recordings that I have heard, and I am more than impressed with the expressive nature of his music and the beauty of his melodies. Check it out at stevencmusic.com, cdbaby.com, and iTunes. Highly recommended!
On Christmas Night
2010 / Steven C. Music
It is such a joy to review an album that I want to jump up and down about, and Steven C.’s On Christmas Night is that kind of album. Not entirely a solo piano recording, some of the tracks include violin, recorder, vocal texture, and light percussion. This collection is more diverse than many and spans time periods from as far back as the 9th century’s “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” through the more recent “Walking In the Air” from The Snowman and Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time Is Here” from the ever-popular A Charlie Brown Christmas. The arrangements stay true to the traditional melodies, but they are done so beautifully that even the time-worn chestnuts are fresh and new. Steven’s 9’ Bosendorfer sings with all of the heartfelt wonder, hope, and joy that these sixteen pieces can evoke, and, of course, Steven’s fingers (and heart) deserve all of the credit. This is an album that would be exquisite background music for a holiday dinner, wrapping gifts, or trimming the tree, but it is much too good to keep in the background. Sit back and let the sounds wrap around you like a warm quilt or a lingering hug.
On Christmas Night opens with the title track, a traditional English carol I was not familiar with. Piano, keyboard and guitar provide an invitation to the celebration, and then segue into “Gesu Bambino” with piano and violin (the late Yuri Merzhevsky) playing a touching and deeply emotional duet. Next up is a wonderful pairing of “I Wonder As I Wander” and “Coventry Carol,” two very dark minor-key pieces that I love. This one is a breathtaking piano solo. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is another one of my favorite carols, and this one features Roxanne Layton of Mannheim Steamroller on recorder. There is also light percussion, which modernizes the piece while staying true to the spirit of the original. The medley of “Go Tell It On the Mountain” and “Mary Had a Baby” adds a gospel touch – rhythmic and jazzy without jarring the mellow vibe. “What Child Is This” is a stellar piano solo – slow, tender, and graceful. Steven’s arrangement of “Joy To the World” is much more subdued than you usually hear it, but expresses a subtle kind of joy – a beautiful interpretation! “Walking In the Air” is one of my favorite songs of any season, and this is one of my favorite arrangements. The piano part is flowing and doesn’t have a lot of embellishment – just quiet string washes in the background. Love it! “O Holy Night” can be a real powerhouse of musical emotion, but Steven’s arrangement is delicate and gentle with recorder, voice, and light percussion in addition to the piano. “Do You Hear What I Hear” is a contemporary carol very effectively given a slightly jazzed solo piano treatment. I’ve read that “Silent Night” is one of the most-recorded songs of all-time, so can anyone still do anything original with it. Yes, as Steven proves – simply beautiful! Steven closes this incredible album with “Christmas Time Is Here,” a bittersweet jazz classic that tugs at the heartstrings. Just piano and bass – perfection!
I have a lot of favorite Christmas albums, but On Christmas Night is going to stay a favorite for many years to come. I give it my highest recommendation. It’s available from www.stevencmusic.com, Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes.
Steven C – On Christmas Night
Well, it’s that time of the years again and here come the albums of Christmas and festive music. Pianist Steven C has recorded a collection sixteen festive carols and songs, aided by a small number of fellow musicians to fill out the sound on a number of the tracks. Mind you, the nine foot Bosendorfer piano Steven C plays throughout this album has a wonderful sound all of its own, with a rich timbre all of its own. I’m not fan of Christmas music and especially carols, but I have to say that these new arrangements hark back to the classical music origins and eschew the saccharine and overt sentimentality that one usually hears today. The musicians involved alongside Steven C include Yuri – violin, Roxanne Layton – recorder, Aimee Fischer – vocal textures, and Scooter – percussion. The tracks include:- On Christmas Night, Gesu Bambino, I Wonder As I Wander – Coventry Carol, O Come O Come Emmanuel, In The Bleak Midwinter, Joy To The World, In Dulci Jubilo and many more. There’s something almost Victorian about this album, it’s as if a hundred plus years of sugar has been removed from these pieces and their musical core have been revived and buffed up to show the musical qualities which have been lost for so long. I can’t believe that I am recommending an album of Christmas music after all these years, but I am. Steven C has done something I didn’t believe possible, he has restored the musicality to these carols and songs.