Past to Presence Steven C 2013 / Steven C Music 3 CDs Disc 1: 48 minutes, Disc 2: 52 minutes, Disc 3: 59 minutes
"Past to Presence" is an incredible 3-CD retrospective of pianist/composer Steven C’s more than twenty years in the music industry. The set includes a jaw-dropping 47 tracks (a coincidence that also commemorates Steven’s 47th birthday this year) plus a bonus track, all for about the price of a single CD. The inspiration for the collection came from one of Steven’s most ardent fans, who searched high and low for Steven’s earlier recordings, most of which had gone out of print. Over time, this fan compiled the most complete library of Steven C’s music anywhere, so he borrowed the collection and revisited his own musical history. He took all of the pieces that were out of print and put them onto three CDs sorted by mood: “Mellow,” “Middle C,” and “Movin’.” From there, he remastered the originals and re-recorded about half of the collection. The resulting set sparkles, soothes, inspires, and energizes.
Quite a bit of this music was used to develop concept albums released by Steven’s previous record labels, and the pieces were often retitled to suit the themes of the albums. For Past to Presence, Steven renamed many of the songs to fit their true origins. The majority of the tracks are ensemble pieces, but there are also quite a few piano solos. It is interesting to “note” that Steven worked and recorded with Mannheim Steamroller/American Gramaphone (that group’s influence can be heard in some of the music) and produced fourteen years’ worth of children’s music with Baby Genius.
With 47 tracks, it is impossible to go into a lot of detail about the CDs, but I have to admit that I really love Disc 3, “Movin’.” Some of the pieces are simply more rhythmic than those on the other two discs, but some really cook. “Chopin’s Prelude 19” blows me away every time I hear it. Usually a mournfully sad piano solo, the upbeat Latin rhythm and faster tempo make the piece danceable and completely intoxicating! I also really like the easy-going feeling of “Java,” the bluesy/rock spirit of “Chasing Grace,” the light-hearted playfulness of “Today Is Forever,” and the upbeat joy of “Simple Gifts for U2.” The bonus track, “Gratitude,” is a beautiful piece that was commissioned for the new Anderson Student Center of Hamline University.
Since I started with Disc 3, I’ll continue in reverse order with Disc 2, “Middle C.” The sixteen tracks on this disc are between “Mellow” and “Movin’,” conveying warmth and optimism. Some are quite rhythmic while others are smooth and more graceful. I have to say that I like all of the tracks, but a few standouts are the gentle “Blissful,” the passionate “Unconditional,” the somewhat intense “Mystery Man,” the poignant “Maybe This 1,” the gospel-tinged “Receiving Grace,” and the ambient “Night Zen.”
As would be expected, Disc 1, “Mellow,” is the quieter and more elegant music Steven C is now known for. My favorites on this disc are “Tears For Peace,” “Soaring-Joy,” “Something Above and Beyond,” “Above the Clouds,” and “Edge of Night.”
"Past to Presence" is sure to be one of my favorite CD titles for the year. With more than 2 1/2 hours of great piano music, it’s a wonderful overview of Steven’s C’s musical career (so far!) as well as being a beautiful listening experience to be savored over and over for another couple of decades. I give Past to Presence my highest recommendation. It is available from www.stevencmusic.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Check it out!