Kingdom Hearts Orchestra -World of Tres-
Kingdom Hearts Orchestra -World of Tres- (Concert Video / CD Edition)
Square Enix Music, Disney Concerts, Walt Disney Records
SQEX-10714 (CD Edition)
April 27, 2019 (CD Edition); January 23 (Concert Video)
Buy on PSN / Microsoft Store / CDJapan
Kingdom Hearts Orchestra -World of Tres- is a video and album release of the concert tour of the same name. The album, with just 11 of the 19 tracks performed, was only made available at concert venues and other special events. The video release, with all 19 tracks recorded from the performance on November 30, 2019 in Osaka, was only made available as part of the special Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind + Concert Video DLC package. The concert contains tracks and medleys from most of the games and spin-offs, with majority of the tracks from Kingdom Hearts III, and the footage is interspersed with game footage that was also shown on the screen at the concert. Arrangements that mostly stick close to the originals, even borrowing from the previous Kingdom Hearts Orchestra -World Tour- album with a few exceptions. As such, it is a good and concise showcase of the music crafted by Yoko Shimomura and her collaborators for the Kingdom Hearts series in an orchestral setting.
The concert begins with the “Dearly Beloved” arrangement from Kingdom Hearts III. As in the game, the arrangement is lovely and more effusive than the previous iterations of the track, and the piano-heavy arrangement makes good use of pianist Benyamin Nuss, who handles all of the piano’s flourishes beautifully. There are a couple of other non-medley tracks, like the only track from coded, “Pretty Pretty Abilities.” It’s a fairly drastic difference given how much synth was used and chiptune was used in the original, but the translation worked out great, resulting in a fun little piece, although the performance has a few minor timing issues. Then there are orchestrations of some of Utada Hikaru’s vocal themes. “Face My Fears” is actually an entirely new arrangement, as it had not appeared in the game. The arrangement focuses on strings and lets a solo violin take the melody, which works very well for the verses and bridge, but sounds awkward for the chorus when the other strings echo the melody. There are some nice changes to the harmony in the second verse, but the second chorus is too soft, robbing the piece of the climax that it could have had. This was a big disappointment for me at first, but once I got used to tone of the piece I began to like it more. Then there is “Hikari”, which is a slightly modified arrangement from what we’ve heard since the first game. Changes mostly come in the form of additional ornamentations, giving it a brighter feeling. The last piece is “Chikai”, which reproduces the arrangement from the game. The arrangement isn’t as magical as that of “Hikari”, but it is stirring when all the instruments are in full swing at the chorus.
The first half of the concert is filled with medleys that each focus on a single game of the series. The medley for the first Kingdom Hearts game has “Dive into the Heart -Destati-“, “Destiny Islands”, “Traverse Town”, the ending version of “Hand in Hand”, and “Friends in My Heart”. Unfortunately since all the tracks are so different, their transitions rather abrupt, and at times are not well adapted to the orchestra; the concert-band arrangements for “Destiny Islands” is passable, but “Traverse Town” feels rather empty and loses the original’s warmth. The other tracks in the medley are not too different from their originals, but sound more impactful with the full orchestra. The Chain of Memories medley is more focused with just the mysterious “Scent of Silence” and “Castle Oblivion”. It keeps a subdued register the entire time, acting appropriately as an interlude between the surrounding medleys. The Kingdom Hearts II medley covers “The Afternoon Streets”, “Working Together”, “Reviving Hollow Bastion”, “Cavern of Remembrance”, and “Deep Anxiety”. Most of these sound close to the originals, but all the same it is wonderful to hear “The Afternoon Streets” in the orchestra setting. “Reviving Hollow Bastion” sounds a bit stilted, but it segues nicely into “Cavern of Remembrance” which has is great thanks to a more prominent piano part.
The 358/2 Days medley is where the arrangements start to shine, opening strong with “Critical Drive” which sounds surprisingly full when the arrangement drops out the percussion. “Sacred Moon” follows, with a great swell beyond the dynamics of its original track and plenty of lovely ornamentation. “Musique pour la tristesse de Xion” is more dramatically different with altered instrumentation and additional lines of music woven in from the choir, making for a moving climax to the medley. The Birth By Sleep medley does similarly well, beginning with “The Worlds” and “Dearly Dreams”, both of which are haunting and beautiful. “Destiny’s Union” and “Night in the Dark Dream” are straightforward, but then “Night of Tragedy” ends the medley with a bang, briefly surpassing the energy and power of the original. The Dream Drop Distance medley begins with the pretty but at times a tad clumsy “Dream Eaters” and “Sweet Spirits”. It then launches into “Majestic Wings”, which is more bombastic here, and then closes on “Link to All” which is performed fine but doesn’t quite seem to fit, sounding like too definitive a closer to appear in a minor medley partway through the concert. The “Music of Another Time” medley covers the regular version of “Hand in Hand”, then a moody theme from Back Cover, ending with the battle theme from 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage-. There isn’t much flow here, but the last two tracks have not yet been released elsewhere, and are solid on their own.
The second half of the concert is filled with medleys from Kingdom Hearts III, each containing the field and battle tracks for one or more worlds from the game, covering all of the worlds in the game except for Scala ad Caelum. The arrangements are nearly identical to the originals, which is understandable since the originals were performed by orchestras as well. Although most of these tracks maybe aren’t as iconic as those picked for the previous medleys, the Kingdom Hearts III suites show how much Yoko Shimomura has developed as a composer, in addition to having the advantage of being much more cohesive, since the tracks were largely written to go together. It also helps that none of the tracks overstays their welcome, as each suite is paced well, thus for example the Olympus Coliseum section for “Of Gods and Toys” is much more palatable here than it is in the game. All the suites in fact are quite enjoyable, from the catchy tracks of “Tangled with Fear”, to the rousing and epic “A Pirate’s Tale”, up to the dramatic atmosphere of the Final World in “A Hero’s Journey”. Each world has a very distinct sound, and the medleys have a good balance of light and exciting moments, some of which I hadn’t taken note of when I was playing the game.
Then there are the two (mostly) battle medleys. The “Diabolic Bash” medley covers the boss themes from the pre-Kingdom Hearts III games: “Destiny’s Force”, “Shrouding Dark Cloud”, “The Fight For My Friends”, “Vim and Vigor”, “The Encounter”, “Another Side”, “Unforgettable”, “Rage Awakened”, and “L’Impeto Oscuro.” The medley is mostly fine, being intense throughout with a few noticeable additions to the arrangements that fill them out more, particularly in the last two tracks. The balancing isn’t always great though, and it is particularly jarring when the percussion comes in for “Another Side.” Much better is the “Overture to the Decisive Battle” medley, which captures the many boss themes of the final segments of Kingdom Hearts III. Most of these are re-workings of previous boss themes from the series, but as with the other Kingdom Hearts III medleys, this one benefits from its original tracks having already been arranged for orchestra, so that the medley doesn’t suffer from any balance issues or gaps in the arrangements. It’s a great encapsulation of the endgame conflict, and a rousing ending to the main portion of the concert.
As for the different releases, the CD only has 11 tracks, omitting the orchestrations of the vocal themes and the tracks from the more minor entires. The remaining tracks are still great, but it might be too pricey an option for some. The video release is a much better value, only costing a small amount extra on top of the game’s DLC, although I have a few gripes about it. The visuals, while serviceable, have some angles of the orchestra that are grainy, and I would have liked to see more of the piano at key moments. The video display is not too intrusive, but at times the video does not match the song all that much. Then there are couple of quality of life issues; you cannot fast forward or rewind in a track, and the concert can only be watched by starting the game. There are no other bonus features like making-ofs or commentaries, but that is more understandable given the price. And of course, it would have been nice to have the audio files available separately as well, but perhaps that will come in the future.
Kingdom Hearts Orchestra -World of Tres- is a solid release for the Kingdom Hearts series, presenting a quick summary of the series’ highlights while also showcasing the new music of the latest entry. It’s nice to hear a lot of these in a live setting, and some of the medleys work particularly well as suites, but anyone looking for more creative arrangements will have to look to something like Project Destati. Although the Kingdom Hearts III soundtrack is not out yet, these medleys will probably be my preferred way to re-experience the music of the Disney worlds from the game. But perhaps more importantly, it’s great to see Square Enix using to opportunity to make the concert more accessible to those who could not make it to the shows, and at such a reasonable price as well. At two hours in length for the full concert, fans should find plenty to like here, and for now the DLC + concert package is the best value for it.
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Posted on January 29, 2020 by Tien Hoang. Last modified on January 29, 2020.