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Gandalf Magic Theatre album cover
3.84 | 21 ratings | 5 reviews | 20% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1983

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Entrance / The Corridor Of The Seven Doors (5:47)
2. 1st Door / Reflections From Childhood (4:02)
3. 2nd Door / Castles Of Sand(13:06)
4. 3rd Door / Loss Of Identity
In The Labyrinth of Delusions (3:15)
5. 4th Door Magic Mirror (3:52)
6. 5th Door / Beyond The Wall Of Ignorance (7:35)
7. 6th Door / Peace Of Mind (4:54)
8. 7th Door / The Fountain Of Real Joy (5:36)
9. Exit (3:37)

Total Time: 51:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Gandalf (Heinz Strobl) / electric and acoustic guitars,synthesizers, mellotron, organ, sitar, vocoder, wind chimes, rhythm machines, bass, gongs, drums, polyphonic syntheziers, and percussion
+ Robert Julian Horky / flutes
- Peter Aschenbrenner / grand piano and organ and saxophone
- Egdon Groger / drums
- Heinz Hummer / bass

Releases information

Lp. WEA 24-0293 (Germany) / Cd. WEA 2292-40293-2

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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GANDALF Magic Theatre ratings distribution

(21 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(55%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GANDALF Magic Theatre reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars It was in the mid-Eighties that the Austrian multi-instrumentalist Gandalf visited for the first time Holland, in the famous Paradiso Theatre in Amsterdam. The gig was far from sold out, we could easily take a seat in front of the stage. There Gandalf had put his Persian carpet on the ground and he was surrounded by many analogue keyboards, acoustic - and electric guitars and a sitar (I love that mesmerizing ethnic sound!). Both the crowd as Gandalf enjoyed the concert and I had another pleasant and unforgettable progrock concert memory, so warm and pleasant.

That concert was the promotional tour for this album, in my opinion his most symphonic effort. On this site Gandalf his music is described as a kind of New Age, here it has mellow and sometimes a bit ambient climates but in general it's far from the often boring New Age atmosphere. Highlight is the long composition entitled "Castels in the sand" featuring a splendid build-up with wonderful play on the Grand piano (from classical to jazzy) and very moving, Spanish inspired acoustic guitar, supported by soft choir-Mellotron waves, GOOSE BUMPS! The other tracks sound pleasant and varied with fine interplay between acoustic - and electric guitars and keyboards (piano, synthesizers, Mellotron) along some saxophone and flute. Imagine a blend of MIKE OLDFIELD, KITARO and ANTHONY PHILLIPS.

By the way, last year I witnessed Gandalf as a support act for The Musical Box (performing "The lamb...") and I have heard that he will tour again and even visit Holland for the second time, I will be there!

Review by Andrea Cortese
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With his fourth album Gandalf continues the same formula of the previous "To Another Horizon" record. A whole instrumental opus based on spiritual or phylosophical reflection. The sense of loss and the chance to get up of each single man and woman is what he's trying to explain in music. So the nine tracks are put in a precise order that goes from desperation to real joy. His visionary and fertile imagination builds up the scene of a magic theatre in front of which the listener comes, alone. When he enters in, through the main door that stands in front, he is at the beginning of a long corridor with seven doors. Each door opens to an interior reflection or to a specific feeling or psycological status. Only passing through all the seven doors is the key to moral ascension, the secret of real joy. Obviously the music reflect each state of mind, going now struggling with lonely grand piano, then powerful with that strong orchestral interludes.

The tracking list is very intersting to read: 1.Entrance: the Corridor of the Seven Doors (5,47 mns); 2. 1st Door: Reflection from Childhood (4,02 mns); 3. 2nd Door: Castles of Sand (13,06 mns) 4. 3rd Door: Loss of Identity in the Labyrinth of Delusions (3,15); 5. 4th Door: the Magic Mirror (3,52 mns); 6. 5th Door: Beyond the Walls of Ignorance (7,35); 7. 6th Door: Peace of Mind (4,54 mns); 8. 7th Door: The Fountain of Real Joy (5,36 mns); 9. Exit (3,37).

Gandalf is a skilled musician and an excellent multi-instrumentist. He knows well how to achieve the most appropriate arrangements for each different state of mind. So fiery electric guitar and distorted saxophone, played by guest musician Peter Aschenbrenner, along with fast tempo drumming rapresents the Labyrinth of Delusions and the Loss of Identity, while hope and redemption ask for acoustic guitar, sitar, flute and for celestial synthesizer's performances. Mellotron and organ do well their own job too, not as so prominently as in the previous album. By the way, the result is slightly less convincing. Maybe 'cause it was based on an already used formula. 3.75 is my evaluation. Something you have to put on your cd player while you're going to take a break and want to relax after a long hard working day. New-age music? Not still, this will come later.

Review by progrules
4 stars Interesting. That's the word that comes to mind thinking about this artist. I mean: look at his discography ! This man has had a very productive career and he is not even 100% progressive and that makes him even more versatile and interesting. In my favourite music store they placed an album by him under new age. I stated at that moment that he was supposed to be progressive but the salesman said: not this album, this is entirely different. I can't remember which album it was, he made quite a lot. But it's what I mean: he is a universal artist and is intriguing because of that.

This particular album is intriguing too. To me this is pure prog, high standard composing and execution resulting in a wonderful album. At first I picked out the longest track (2nd door) for my mp3 and so I know that one best. I loved it immediately, the music is kind of quiet, very melodic and very suitable as background music but meant in the most positive way possible. When I decided to check out all the other tracks I was anxious to discover they couldn't live up to the magnificent 2nd door but suprisingly they did. At least almost. The whole album is in the same style, to me that was a plus because it's a very soothing style. You have to be in the mood for this but when you are it's more than an enjoyable listen for over 50 minutes.

With all this positive information it will be no surprise I value this with 4 stars. Very well deserved !

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Magic

Magic Theatre is, together with Visions, Gandalf's finest moment. The eclectic and adventurous nature of the previous To Another Horizon is refined on this album and combined with the melodic sensibilities of Visions to create an excellent instrumental and progressive album. Magic Theatre is also rare in Gandalf's vast discography in being more of a band effort than a one man show. In addition to Gandalf himself on a wide variety of instruments including electric and acoustic guitars, a multitude of keyboards and percussions, there is also a full time drummer in Egdon Groger and bass player in Heinz Hummer which gives this album a fuller sound than other Gandalf albums. Further, Peter Aschenbrenner plays grand piano, organ and saxophone, and Robert Julian Horky plays flutes.

The styles vary from folky to jazzy to classical to electronic while never going too far in either direction and thus keeping it all a coherent whole. This album often reminds me of my favourite Mike Oldfield album Q.E.2., but though Gandalf might perhaps accurately be called "the Austrian Mike Oldfield" he has his own approach to things.

Overall, I find Magic Theatre highly enjoyable. It is recommended to all fans of instrumental, progressive Rock.

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Austrian multi-instrumentalist Heinz Strobl goes by the alias of Gandalf for his musical journeys, and his conceptual LP from 1983, `Magic Theatre', is comprised of richly detailed instrumental passages that are frequently acoustic based alongside ethereal keyboards, sometimes even with soft ethnic touches, the artist crafting a fusion of ambient, New Age and the lightest of symphonic prog flair. His music can remind of everything from Mike Oldfield, Steve Hackett, Kitaro, Anthony Phillips and perhaps even Deuter's discs once he moved away from the more Krautrock-flavoured experimentation of his earliest works, but on `Magic Theatre' you can add in a pinch of the big symph-prog names like Genesis, Yes and Renaissance as well.

There's a touch of Genesis to the sleek guitar runs, upfront coursing bass, bubbly Moog spirals and announcing synth themes of opener `Entrance: The Corridor Of The Seven Doors'. `1st Door: Reflections From Childhood' bristles with strident acoustic strums and whirring Moog ruminations, but it's `2nd Door: Castles Of Sand' that will greatly appeal to prog-rock fans, being a thirteen-minute suite of multiple musical passages that move through everything from stark drama to intimate contemplations. There's Renaissance-like symphonic orchestral pomp, heartfelt solo piano reflections, sprightly jazzy bursts and an expertly revealing extended guitar run in the middle that is a masterclass in restraint and gradually building power, and many will identify it and the brief chanted choir-like climax with Mike Oldfield. `3rd Door: Loss Of Identity In The Labyrinth of Delusions' then closes the first side with a brief touch of danger to its heavy keyboard chords backed by distorted jagged sax and pounding drums.

The flip's `4th Door: The Magic Mirror' dazzles with victorious and crisp guitar runs dancing over fizzing keyboard washes with a touch of Mellotron creeping in, and the subtle `5th Door: Beyond The Wall Of Ignorance' channels Deuter's unfurling meditative atmospheres with careful reprising guitar themes flitting in and out, breezy flute, creaking sitar and controlled drum patterings. `6th Door: Peace Of Mind's mix of sighing Mellotron, sparkling electric piano and placid flute trills wrapped in the softest of eastern flavours hold several embracing reprising themes. Between drowsy and romantic sax wafting, `7th Door: The Fountain Of Real Joy's frantic guitar runs over buoyant thick driving bass and trilling synth noodling remind of the holy trinity of Howe, Squire and Wakeman of Yes at their most hopeful, and `Exit' is an uplifting and live-affirming farewell with lulling organ and sparkling acoustic/electric guitar ringing soloing that perhaps calls to mind Camel.

Such a crossover of styles means the LP has so much to offer. New Age listeners will get a weightier album than what would usually be expected to be found with something with that tag, ambient followers will find more colour and vibrancy than usual, and prog fans will discover something more tasteful and restrained than mere flashy show-off soloing. Full of wonder, instrumental flair and deep emotion, `Magic Theatre' is one of Gandalf's defining and most enduring works, and it even makes for a superb introduction to his musical world for newcomers.

Four stars.

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