2017 / Steven C
Review by Kathy Parsons
Emotive is a collection of twelve original compositions by pianist/composer Steven C and was recorded live in the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Minnesota. In addition to Steven and his magnificent Bosendorfer grand piano are choral background vocals and an ensemble of seventeen string players (real ones!). The album was recorded “in the round” with Steven and his piano in the center of the circle under the stained glass dome of the Cathedral. The music was composed during a challenging and reflective time in Steven’s life and was orchestrated, arranged and conducted by local composer Sean Turner. To explain the title, Steven says: “I think the highest level, the most emotive level, is where you’re going beyond playing right notes and even beyond playing with feeling. You’re channeling the divine.”
Emotive opens with “Something Beyond,” a piece that was composed during Steven’s darkest, most painful time following a divorce. During that time, this piece came “from beyond” and brought him to the realization that he has probably lived more than half of his life. The ethereal choral voices create an otherworldly atmosphere before the piano and violin enter with an emotional interplay - a powerful first piece and a favorite! “Communion” reflects on communion as both shared experiences and as the a practice and expression of faith - soothing, uplifting, and very beautiful. “Missing You” was also composed during the dark post-divorce period when Steven was missing his family. During that time, he often spent time in the Cathedral in contemplation. While the piece is poignant and communicates painful emotions, there is a strong feeling of hope and of moving forward. “I See You” reflects on seeing the essence of someone without judgement. Gentle and sweet, it conveys the profound feeling of truly connecting with someone - another favorite. Steven says that “b Minor” was a gift from the Cathedral. He heard the first three notes while sitting there one morning, but couldn’t go any farther with the piece until he understood its true message. Once that happened, the rest of the piece came to him while running back home. The joyful “Who Does That?” was inspired by how blessed Steven feels in all that he does. The piano stays in the lead for most of the piece and the strings send the melody soaring - also a favorite. Emmanuel Masqueray is the architect who built the Cathedral of Saint Paul and Steven feels that his lovely piece titled “Masqueray’s Melody” was a collaboration with him as he improvised at the piano. It features an introduction performed on the church’s pipe organ by Lawrence Lawyer, the Cathedral’s organist and Music Director. “Begin Again” is the only piano solo on the album and it’s a beauty! Very dark and somber, it reflects on the process of starting over in order to “heal, grow, trust, and love.” Composed in D minor, it begins in the bass of the piano and very gradually moves up to the mid-range of the keyboard. I love this track! “Restored” was composed very late in the process of assembling this album, but is a perfect closing. The title refers to Steven’s work restoring historic homes in St. Paul for nineteen years as well as his own “restoration” with this music. “I am restored with Emotive, listening to God/Spirit/Universe to answer my calling to compose music and share my gifts.” And we in turn are blessed with this music!
Emotive is available from Amazon and CD Baby. Recommended!
November 17, 2017
Review by Kathy Parsons