Review from Journeyscapes Radio
Greatest Hits Vol. 2 is a collection of sixteen pieces culled from a three-decade span of works by California-based composer/musician Steven Vitali. His music first debuted on Canadian airwaves in 1988 with a song called “Eternity”, which was eventually followed up with his debut album, Come Dream With Me, released in 1989. Totaling sixty-seven minutes in length, Greatest Hits Vol. 2 weaves new age, neoclassical and contemporary instrumental styles of music that variably range from boldly cinematic to quietly contemplative, as environmental nature sounds along with touches of world music are additionally sprinkled throughout.
Introducing the album is a piece from Vitali’s 2006 release, Quiet Moments, titled “Tranquil Thoughts”, which opens with breezy intonations of Japanese flute amidst the sound of ocean waves gently rolling in. A soothing piano melody ensues, as Vitali’s fingertips climb softly up and down the keys, effectively invoking an atmosphere of calm and serenity. Following next is “Andrew’s Song”, taken from the album, Invitation to Dream. Boasting a sweeping and tender arrangement, the piece initially begins with a solo keyboard melody, as more symphonic and rhythmic elements are brought into the fold. Track numbers four and five include a pair of notable pieces also culled from Quiet Moments. The first of these, “The Winds of Time”, begins with the churning of the ocean’s tides, as an introductory harp recalls that of a stage curtain being pulled back on a dance performance or play. Melodic piano and strings provide gentle accompaniment throughout, as the distant call of seagulls seemingly drift in and out of rising mists from the sea. Descending wind gusts accompanied by the sounds of thunder and rainstorm quietly introduce “Heaven’s Harp”, eventually giving way to a more classically-infused melody of delicate harp and strings. The album seemingly reaches its zenith midway through with the eighth track, “A Sign of the Dragon”, a particularly lovely composition taken from the 2013 release, Language of the Soul. Proceeding with a flash of tinkling chimes, images are recalled of the mythical Far East. Imbued with a somewhat formidable yet whimsically magical essence, added cinematic and rhythmic elements lend a Yin-Yang balance of both delicate beauty and striking power. It’s easily my favorite piece on the album, even bearing some reminiscence to the fantasy-themed music of Medwyn Goodall. “Everything Happens for a Reason” is another highlight likewise taken from Language of the Soul, as well as perhaps the album’s most emotive composition. Illuminated by sparkling key strokes throughout, a symphonic arrangement of string and brass instruments are laid over of a steady, moderately-paced rhythm. Eventually pausing for a bridge of subtle ethnic chant, this wonderful number ultimately culminates with an essence of existential wonder and forging ahead in life. Concluding the album with a lively mood of festivity is another piece lifted from Quiet Moments, titled “On the Mountain”. Here, cinematic strings and choral textures are guided by a waltzing rhythm that leads right though the entrance of a grand palace of celebration.
Lightly touching upon influential works of composers such as Hans Zimmer, Vangelis and Yanni, this rewarding collection of songs range from sweepingly cinematic to quietly contemplative. Likewise characterized by romantic overtones of classical elegance throughout its course, Greatest Hits Vol. 2 offers a definitive, well-rounded introduction to the music of Steven Vitali, no less providing new listeners with an excellent place to start!