2023 / Sandrose Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
North is the first album from pianist/composer Gerald Krampl since his move last year from Vienna, Austria to a small village in Austria's northern-most region called the "Wood Quarter." This is especially significant because all of the music Krampl composed before the move was created in Vienna and he wasn't sure the music would continue to flow in this new environment - doubts that quickly disappeared! The ten piano solos on the album were inspired by walks to mysterious forests, hidden lakes, stone monuments and green fields, often reflecting on the contrasts between the sometimes rough and sometimes tender aspects of nature. Quoting the composer: "This story will certainly be continued!" I'm very glad for that, as I've been reviewing Gerald's music since 2002 when he and his late wife, Hilde, collaborated as Agnus Dei, a poetry and music project that produced several albums. His solo piano music combines elements of neo-classical and new age genres and often tells stories in the universally-understood language of music.
A classically-trained musician from childhood, Gerald Krampl started his music career in the 1970s. He has lead a couple of progressive-rock bands, composed music for films and web presentations, and produced his own music projects that include solo piano albums as well as Agnus Dei, the music and poetry project with his late wife.
North begins with "In the Morning Still," a relaxed piece that feels very warm and cozy, reflecting on the peaceful early morning hours when the world is beginning to wake up - a lovely start! "Rite of Passage" tells quite an interesting story with changing musical themes and tonal colors. Some parts of "Northwood Mysteries" seem to be asking questions while others could be speculating about the answers to those questions - a really interesting piece! "Winter's End" is very lighthearted and celebratory, undoubtedly expressing gratitude for warmer weather and more sunshine! "Rough and Tender Land" is a study in contrasts. The first part of the piece feels darker and more treacherous to me, becoming much gentler and more delicate in the mid-section before returning to the darker theme near the end - again colorful musical storytelling! I'd love to know the inspiration for "Mercy Tree," a piece that feels very benevolent and caring to me. The melody is simple, but says so much. "Rabbit's Game" is light, playful and completely charming! "Stone Witness" is much darker and more stoic, which makes sense, given the title. "Through The Fields of Green" picks up the tempo, possibly depicting someone running joyfully through a meadow or maybe a gentle wind ruffling tall grasses. I love the energy of this piece - my favorite track on the album! The album comes to a close with "Autumn Memories," a warmly nostalgic look back in time.
North is an excellent first album inspired by Gerald Krampl's new surroundings and lifestyle! It is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes and many streaming sites including Spotify.
November 28, 2023