Pearlfisher: A Collection of Piano Solos 2009-2019
2020 / Sandrose Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Pearlfisher: A Collection of Piano Solos 2009-2019 is a double-album of twenty-five original piano solos by Viennese pianist/composer Gerald Krampl. Six new pieces composed in 2018 and 2019 are included in addition to “revisited and re-recorded” pieces from the past twelve years, none of which have been previously released in this form. Krampl refers to the older pieces as “pearls,” hence the title of the album. There is quite a variety in the music, from very quiet and minimalistic to some pieces that are much bigger and bolder. It’s an excellent retrospective of an artist who began his musical career in the 1970’s.
In his youth, Gerald Krampl was trained in classical piano and music theory. He formed two prog-rock bands, Kyrie Eleison and Indigo, in the 1970’s and 1980’s and wrote all of the music for the bands in addition to playing keyboards. In 1999, he founded Agnus Dei, “Project for Music & Poetry,” with his late wife, Hilde. I reviewed three of the six albums that were released after Hilde’s passing in 2002. They were collections of music by Gerald and with a booklet of poems by Hilde that were intended to be read while listening to the music. Since 2006, Gerald has worked as a solo artist, writing and producing music for various projects, including film soundtracks and music for television. He released his first solo piano album in 2013 and has released several others since then.
There are obviously too many pieces on the album to tell you about all of them, but I’ll mention a few favorites. “Whale Song From Antarctica” is a lively and joyful opening track with a slow, peaceful melody and an energetic accompaniment - a great start! “Over the Snowland Barriers” is more melancholy, overflowing with longing and grace. I love the quiet beauty and tranquility of “Misty Morning Meadow” - cool and evocative. “The Falcon of Chastelain” has a haunting video with still photos Krampl took of the Griffen Castle ruins in Styria, Austria. Dark and mysterious, it’s one of the more dramatic tracks. “The Taste of Pride and Glory” takes the tempo to a high-energy level, dancing and swirling from the first notes to the last - I really like this one! “Tomorrow, Come What May” has a very strong yet poignant melody that could easily support lyrics, but really doesn’t need them. The title “Seaside Meditation II” could suggest that this is a very placid, relaxing piece of music, but it is actually one of the more intense tracks and brings images of sunbeams dancing on the water. “Afterwards, Just Memories” reminds me of Erik Satie with its economical use of notes to express strong emotions. “The Curse of the Enchanted Bride” is an intriguing title and the piece itself is darkly mysterious with several different themes. I’d love to know the story behind this one! The more ambient “Caves Gold” tells the first part of its very dark tale through a series of blocked chords. The second half of the piece is more flowing, but is still very spare and very dark. The light and playful “Entry of the Dwarfs” brings a bit of levity with its lively tempo and spirit. “Regrets” has the feeling of a late night at the piano, perhaps by candlelight, playing spontaneously and from the heart. “Quiet Evening on the Waterfront” is so peaceful that you can see moonlight reflected on the water as the gently-moving surf creates its own special magic.
Pearlfisher: A Collection of Piano Solos 2009-2019 is available from Amazon, iTunes/Apple Music, Bandcamp and several of the streaming sites. It’s a very impressive collection!
April 6, 2020