The material contained on this release celebrates the 20th anniversary of Austrian multi-instrumentalist Heinz Strobl, aka Gandalf, as a performing artist.
The nicely designed and documented digipack features a live cd and dvd. The latter contains the concert in the Ronacher Theatre in Vienna (which Gandalf mentioned at the end of a feature I did on “Visions” and “Visions 2001” in 2006) next to a concert in Zell am Zee, Austria, two bonus tracks, an interview with Gandalf and a promo clip of “Just go on believing”.
The concert sees Gandalf on stage with a whole range of session musicians he had the honour working with on previous albums, including Steve Hackett, Peter Aschenbrenner, Robert Julian Horky, Toni Burger and others, and even his son Christian Strobl on drums and percussion.
The first half of the recording is certainly the best, taking off with the fantasy themes “Return to the Shire”, the 10-minute “Colours of the Earth” and “Cosmic Balance”.
The short but beautiful “Magician’s Theme” leads into “The keeper of the old forest”, which (sadly enough) receives quite a different, folky musical arrangement with lots of fretless bass and violin.
“Face in the Mirror”, the highlight for sure on the disc, sees Steve Hackett and Gandalf excel in some great guitar solo’s, followed by another great track: “Alone at Elrond’s House” melts two tracks, and even treats the listener to some exciting solo violin by Toni Burger.
Although I would have loved to have seen and hear more material from his first few albums, this concert release is a rarity, documenting “a unique gathering of musicians and of magic musical moments” (as Gandalf puts it himself).
You can see what reviews I have done of this artist on the Gandalf artist page