Bungo and Alchemist Orchestra Concert
Bungo and Alchemist Orchestra Concert
November 28, 2018
Buy at Amazon Japan
The Bungo and Alchemist Orchestra Concert features orchestral arrangements of most of the original soundtrack material. Arranged by Hideki Sakamoto himself, and performed by Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony Chorus, and Mari Matsubara, on solo violin, how does this orchestral treatment of the original soundtrack turn out?
The album opens with the titular theme “Bungo and Alchemist,” bringing the original tune to the orchestral front. The various sections of the orchestra (woodwinds/piano/brass/strings) all mingle quite well and each has their chance to shine that sets the tone for the concert. Closing the album is “Bungo and Alchemist for Violin Solo & Orchestra,” which plays out a bit different, not only in the incorporation of a solo violin, which is given a large amount of focus, but also the slower tempo adds a romantic air to the piece compared to the first rendition on the album. “Rest” is akin to the original soundtrack version, focusing on piano and woodwinds, both of which capture a delicate sound. The additional strings in this rendition expand upon the already beautiful soundscape. Likewise, “Peace” doesn’t stray too far from the original material and is dominated by strings and woodwind sections. There is a magical quality captured in this arrangement and the introduction of the brass helps give it a bit more texture.
There are a variety of action-oriented pieces heard throughout the album revolving around a central character. “A Certain Literary Man Who Walks Through Unknown Roads” takes a similar approach to the soundtrack version, albeit with expanded instrumentation, and the slower tempo in some sections give it dynamic contrast. “A Certain Literary Man Who Opposes Urgency” also incorporates additional instrumentation and there is some Spanish influence heard during the calmer sections of the piece. Unlike the original, the sections that tend to shy away from a melodically focused tune are more successful with the instrument palette, and despite the lack of a piano accompaniment like the original, still has a air of romance to it. “A Certain Literary Man Who Doesn’t Stop Acquiring Knowledge” is more orchestral focused now, losing some of the Gust pastiche of the original. It is still a fun piece though, and the brass harmonies are particularly noteworthy. Lastly, “A Certain Literary Man Who Opposes Undermining” is a dramatic piece with a brass forward melody, accompanied by strings that help give it tension. Overall, it’s an improvement over the original, but still a bit lacking compared to others.
The rest of the album is a hodgepodge of various themes. “Curator’s Theme” blends solo violin and choir, which add needed help to the original. The dramatic air contrasts nicely with moments that are more subdued. The end result is a memorable arrangement. “Circulation of Documents” is a wonderful waltz with piano, woodwind, brass, and strings. The end result is peaceful and a bit romantic. “Eclectic Dining Room” opens a bit slower and more dramatic compared to the original, while the staccato piano and woodwinds are as jovial as the original. The slower tempo also gives it a nice coat of paint. Due to the orchestral nature of the album, “Come, We Might As Well Go Conquer” has less of a French flair, due to the lack of accordion, but the brass and strings forward melody, alongside a militaristic, yet lighthearted accompaniment, makes for an overall improvement compared to the original. Lastly, “Bankrupting Cogwheels” takes strings, choir, and militaristic percussion and makes for a more dramatic affair. The strings are still the highlight of the composition and the woodwinds help bring some brightness to the piece, but it still suffers from the repetitive nature of the original.
All in all, the Bungo and Alchemist Orchestra Concert is another fine album dedicated to the music to the game of the same title. While some pieces are improvements, others are generally richer versions of the existing material. In addition, like with the piano arrange album released prior, some of the more worldly and instrumentally diverse tunes suffer from going towards an orchestra format. However, fans of the original soundtrack will certainly enjoy hearing their favorite tunes brought to life by an orchestra.
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Posted on August 15, 2019 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 15, 2019.