Storybook - Wondrous Tales Without Words
2020 / Sandrose Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Storybook - Wondrous Tales Without Words is a collection of solo piano stories that exist only in the mind of the composer and pianist, Viennese artist Gerald Krampl. Telling stories with his music has been one of Krampl’s primary motivations from the time he started composing back in the 1970’s, and his first two bands, Kyrie Eleison and Indigo, were prog-rock projects with large-scale compositions composed by Krampl that told tales and fantasies. The bands often performed in costumes and masks to help to make the stories come alive. Krampl’s next project was Agnus Dei with his wife, Hilde. Krampl wrote and performed the music, and the CDs include a booklet of poetry by Hilde that was intended to be read while listening to the music. After Hilde’s sudden passing in 2002, Krampl gradually found his way back to solo piano and has been releasing excellent solo albums since 2013. Trained in classical piano and music theory, Krampl has worked as a solo artist as well as writing and producing music for various projects, including film soundtracks and music for television.
The fifteen “Wondrous Tales” are varied and the music ranges from light and dreamy to very dark and dramatic. The only clue to the plot of each story is its title, allowing the listener to imagine and create a scenario to fit the music as he or she hears it. Six of the tracks on this album were also included on Pearlfisher, a “best of” compilation released earlier this year.
Storybook - Wondrous Tales Without Words begins with “The Falcon of Chastelain,” a melancholy piece that makes me think of a lonely bird who flies through the sky in search of his lost mate. “The Whispering Willow” is also tinged with melancholy, but is much gentler with graceful images of a breeze rustling through the branches of a solitary tree. The energy level picks up in “Entry of the Dwarfs” - these are lively and joyful little people! “Caves Gold” begins with feelings of dark mystery and possible tragedy. Very slow and somber in the first half of the piece, it lightens in the middle, but still conveys deep sadness and loss. “God Spell” is a four-movement work: “1: Tempest” is mostly very dark and agitated, calming a bit near the end. “2: Relief” is one of the more peaceful and lyrical tracks on the album - very beautiful! “3: Resumption” is lighter and more playful with some sparkling runs up the piano keyboard. “4: Prostration” seems to tell of heaven or of a heavenly experience - very warm and gentle. “Chronicles of the Forgotten” is a favorite. The diverse themes seem to tell several different stories, all with a touch of poignance and sadness. Even the title of “The Curse of the Enchanted Bride” evokes a variety of images, but the music weaves together a combination of themes that express mystery, ugliness, beauty, danger, sadness, and more - it’s quite a story and even has a happy ending! “Hail To the King of Fools” is a playful ode to a king of dubious distinction - perhaps ignorance IS bliss! The closing track, “Comes a Time Thereafter,” is another favorite with its different themes and emotions - several stories combined into one!
Storybook - Wondrous Tales Without Words is quite a travelogue through a creative mind - and a very enjoyable one at that! It is available from retail and streaming outlets like Amazon, iTunes/Apple Music, Bandcamp, and Spotify.
October 19, 2020