For Vienna’s Gerald Krampl, music has become the passion of a lifetime. He’s already been active for over 45 years, a remarkable achievement on its own. While the pianist has been compared to ‘Olafur Arnalds and other members of the younger set, it would be more accurate to compare them to Krampl. Will today’s performers – ‘Arnalds, O’Halloran and more – still be recording in 2050? We hope so, but nobody knows.
Krampl’s career path has now stretched from prog rock (as a member of Kyrie Eleison) to new age to ambient to solo piano performance, in the field that is alternately called modern classical and (as we prefer to call it) modern composition. It must be strange to record music while the genre name changes, and to note that what one has been doing for decades has suddenly become more popular. Krampl’s last three albums have featured electronics and strings (e-strings on Innocent Wasteland and Lighthouse and live strings on 2012’s Wonder Way), and Krampl has re-worked selections from these albums for Solo Piano Collectibles. The beauty of the new set is that Krampl has not just played the same songs in the same way, without the extra instruments. Tempos have changed, while other modifications have been made as well. For example, while the slow, sweet strings of Peter Sagaischek are absent from “On a Rainy Monday”, Krampl’s ivories are more insistent. The pauses come across as deeper, while the clustered notes seem more like the raindrops they are likely intended to represent. “Beyond the Horizon” and “Wallflower” bear brighter tones, and “Thinking of You” seems less gimmicky without the typewriter, traffic and birds. This is not to say that adornments are unwanted, but that it’s nice to be able to hear the composition on its own.
Of the three new pieces included in this collection, “Leaving Winter” is the most effective, thanks to a memorable theme and a series of small transitions. As nature is a continuing theme for the artist, we suspect that he may have an entire album of winter songs in him. A themed set (with or without live strings) is the next obvious step. We congratulate Krampl on his career to date. Younger musicians, take heart ~ through hard work and perseverance, it can be done! (Richard Allen)