Although there have been many video game music events, only few of them have been recorded and released as an album. No such event has, at least to my knowledge, received as much publicity and international acclaim among music enthusiasts as Symphonic Fantasies and Symphonic Odysseys “Tribute to Nobuo Uematsu.”
No such event has, at least to my knowledge, received as much publicity and international acclaim.
Around the end of the last year the recording from the Symphonic Odysseys “Tribute to Nobuo Uematsu” concert was released. The pieces were arranged by Jonne Valtonen, Roger Wanamo, Jani Laaksonen, Masashi Hamauzu and Shiro Hamaguchi. The album is a tribute to one of the most respected composers, Nobuo Uematsu, the author of the scores for the Final Fantasy series. The album consists of the music recorded during a concert played by WDR Radio Orchestra on 9th July 2011 at the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra Building.
The material comprises of two CDs. The first one, opened with fanfares, begins with Final Fantasy Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, arranged by Roger Wanamo. The suite consists of three parts: I. Grave – Allegro, II. Adagio cantabile, III. Allegro molto, all of which are inspired by the early period of Uematsu’s career (FFI-VI). Melodic compositions flowingly change from the illustrative themes of Final Fantasy VI OSV – Opening Theme into the battle motifs of Final Fantasy V OSV – Clash on the Big Bridge. What binds those stylistically disparate themes together is Benyamin Nuss’s innovative piano technique and his interpretations of Final Fantasy VI OSV – Aria Di Mezzo Carattere and Final Fantasy III OSV – The Boundless Ocean. His virtuosity gives Nobuo Uematsu’s works a fresh feel and makes them more vivid. The album also features some well-known compositions e.g. Chrono Trigger (Silent Light), which has been recorded a capella by the WDR Radio Choir. It is the piece’s first performance of that kind and I must admit it won my heart. It’s all owing to Arnie Roth and the way he gracefully conducted the musicians.
The second CD features tracks inspired by Nobuo Uematsu’s most recent works, spanning the last four years. There is a great emphasis put on arrangements in which string sections play a leading role: The Last Story (Spreading Your Wings) and On Windy Meadows (from Final Fantasy XIV). However, none of the previously mentioned compositions have such a strong emotional appeal as Waterside (from Blue Dragon). What makes the track so unique are the violin parts by Juraj Čižmarovič. No one can combine low and high notes as he does: in a touching, piercing way. Consisting of many sub-movements, Lost Odyssey Suite resembles Ravel’s “Bolero” in its structure. The choice of compositions featured in the album provides an opportunity to familiarise yourself with a small, yet important part of Nobuo Uematsu’s works. To a large extent, it is owing to the passion and talent of Thomas Böcker, a producer and organiser of concert promoting video game music, a genre which still remains a niche style.
I can say without hesitation that what we are offered here is an impeccable and fully polished product.
The album is pretty good when compared with the rest of Böcker’s productions. It meets the expectations of the listeners and, more importantly, sets new standards as to how a professional game music event should be organised. I can say without hesitation that what we are offered here is an impeccable and fully polished product. Symphonic Odysseys „Tribute to Nobuo Uematsu” will be on everybody’s lips for decades.