12 Nov 2011

22nd International Festival of Comics and Games in Łódź - Akira Yamaoka

English version


The posters for the festival were very nice made. You can see "Akira YAMAOKA & Cool Kids of Death" below on both of them.

Yes... Akira Yamaoka and his music on the 22th Festival of Comics and Games in Łódź. Really?

When I saw the news of Akira Yamaoka coming to Poland, I just knew I had to see him. Even though I'm not a big fan of his works, it was an another famous Japanese composer of video games music industry in my country.

8 Oct 2011

Joe Hisaishi - The Best of Cinema Music


01. NAUSICAA (From the film "Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind")
02. Princess Mononoke (From the film "Princess Mononoke")
03. THE GENERAL (From the film "THE GENERAL (Keaton's The Great Train Pursuit)")
04. Raging Men (From the film "Brother")
05. HANA-BI (From the film "HANA-BI")
06. Kids Return (From the film "Kids Return")
07. Let The Bullets Fly (From the film "Let the Bullets Fly")
08. Howl's Moving Castle (From the film "Howl's Moving Castle")
09. One Summer's Day (From the film "Spirited Away")
10. Summer (From the film "Kikujiro")
11. Villain (From the film "Villain")
12. Ashitaka and San (From the film "Princess Mononoke")
13. My Neighbour TOTORO (From the film "My Neighbor Totoro")



First of all, an old story about which I've told  a lot of people (hope anyone remembers it).
My first serious meeting (before I listened only the soundtrack for "Ponyo") with Joe Hisaishi was a DVD with his concert in Budokan, still being considered by me to be the best video ever recorded (however, Blu-ray version is far better, not only because of quality). I couldn't help, downloading...rips...after watching the show. RIPS, since here was no original CD release. Back then I thought that Master obviously gave as an another album where we could listen such magnificent arrangements like those at this concert but it didn't happen to be a fact, even though his discography includes much over 100 CDs... I couldn't believe it. Rips of, naturally, low quality couldn't satisfy me enough.
And so I "waited" 2 years for a news like that... "The Best of Cinema Music" including Joe's beautiful arrangements from charity concerts. I noticed Nausicaa or Princess Monoke Suite, of similar length as in Budokan and on the concert in Kraków. I couldn't wait for the next day to listen to them along with other amazing tracks prepared for us.
Does this album make me fulfilled?


The answer is no. It's a great, fantastic, outstanding, really brilliant production, but if to compare with Budokan, there is an easy winner. And I listened to both albums at least ~20 times, so I know what I say.
Seems like the magic of  "25 years of work with Hayao Miyazaki" concert just can't be replaced. Maybe it's all because of the enormous orchestra and choirs? Maybe it is. After all Budokan's recording sounds FAR stronger, more emotional and in general, better. And that actually is all I can tell you about why I feel better about Budokan performances.
Other the same (or should I say similar, because a bit differently played?) arrangements which happened to be played in Budokan and placed on the CD are fantastic "Ashitaka no San"  and "My Neighbour Totoro" (but only "Tonari no Totoro").

What much disappoints about this album is that "Ponyo" or "Laputa" was not included. Instead of them we have versions of "KIDS RETURN", "Summer", "One Summer's day", "Howl's moving Castle", "HANA-BI", "Raging man", "Let the Bullets Fly" and part of Keaton the General, which we know from other albums! That's very sad to me, but... I must agree, logical.

Let's talk about totally new tracks. Oh, I'm sorry, there actually is only a one like that. I must admit, even after listening 5 times, I couldn't enjoy "Villain" soundtrack very much. BUT it doesn't matter as I started to love it a bit later. The reason why I couldn't find it to be masterpiece for so long is that it presents a totally different Hisaishi than I've been listening before. Dark, mysterious atmosphere... It didn't really fit in my picture of him.
"Villain" suite (I also heard it on live in Kraków) is superb, just like all the other compositions on this album. Meanwhile I watched the movie and maybe that's also the reason why I feel more and more willing to listen to it again. I especially like vocal part, what is kind of strange considering my music taste. Fantastic voice of... Wait, I probably won't know until I buy CD and take a look in booklets... Cause I can't find the info anywhere.
Speaking about booklets - photo for cover has been taken from the concert in Kraków. Unfortunately, it's not possible to find me on the audience, ekhm.

If you consider listening "Best of Cinema Music" by Joe Hisaishi, you are an idiot. There is no point in considering, just listen to it already! One of the best album of the year for me, if not the best.
Hopefully you don't know the concert in Budokan and you won't have comparing thoughts as I do.
"Joe Hisaishi in Budokan" changed my life indeed.

17 Sep 2011

Tommy Wiseau's "The Room"



I feel obliged to finally write about one of the best movie I've ever seen. Before I watched it for the first time - I already knew practically the whole story and best scenes of the movie. How is that possible?

This film is something special. When I said "one of the best movie I've ever seen", I really meant that. What in your opinion "one of the best movie" could be like? For me, "The Room" is awesome, because I literally CAN'T GET ENOUGH of it. I guess it's a year after I have been sent a link for one of the most iconic scene (not most, though) and still, I happen to watch something of it almost everyday. It's kind of a narcotic, isn't it?
I happened to watch the whole production after ~1 year of discovering this masterpiece. It does sound strange, doesn't it?

Ok, so... Should I be straight now?
 "The Room" is said to be the worst movie ever made. Released in 2003, it gained many fans (especially from the USA, of course), though. Why? Because its badness makes it actually a masterpiece. Right now you probably deduced what is this about - FUN. There are so many fails, so many illogical dialogs, situations that writing a detailed review of the whole film would be a REALLY hard work.
What I recommend you all to do is just write on yt "The Room" or "Tommy Wisseau". You will find there a mass of epic scenes from the movie. My favorite one is "Football Accident" or "Me Underwears".
You'll see "The Room" in "Star Wars", "Zelda", "The Dark Knight"...etc. It's just an another icon of yt. But it's not just "Star Wars Kid" or "this drummer is at the wrong gig" orrrrr "Trololo". They are short and not that brainwashing.

I already mentioned about Tommy Wiseau in the title of entry. You probably realized he is a director of "The Room", but also a main character. Obviously his role is "the best" one, but don't resign to watch other scenes without him. In fact, ALL scenes from "The Room" are ridiculous and it is worth to see them just for fun.


You probably want to know what the story is about?
Johnny lives in Los Angeles, together with her future wife, Lisa. He also hugged Denny from the orphanage. His best friend is Mark. Together with them, he leads a happy life. But suddenly, after 7 years of this state, something is going to change...

I'm letting myself post a few videos of this movie here and... Don't worry about spoilers. Really. But, if you prefer to watch the whole movie first, do this. Also, after watching I want you to check the yt. Because of it you can realize some things you didn't while watching. And, also, there are many fascinating compilations.
Enjoy!


P.S. If you prefer to read, there is even a novelization! (unofficial, I guess).

14 Sep 2011

The Best of Cinema Music
This information made me barely survive, but in the end I'm alive and definitely will write about this album after listening to it.

Also, I'm not dead and new entry/ies are going to be posted soon!

6 Aug 2011

Beach Boys

I decided to watch an another Japanese drama series.
I wanted to check out "Beach Boys" for a long time actually, because of Takashi Sorimachi (GTO) playing one of the main role, but it's just a week ago I found it to download in appropriate quality.
Obviously, I wasn't really sure what to expect. The title sound like a gay adventure or so. Or boys spreading around and looking for girls on the beach. This drama is nothing like that. I would it is family-friendly.
In general, the story tells as about a friendship of 2 guys, being employees at Minshuku (kind of a motel, I guess) called "Diamond Head". The summer adventure is about to start, but...how long will it take?
I definitely wanted it to be comic and after the first episode I wasn't disappointed at this point. Sorimachi played really similar as in GTO. Kind of similar characters, actually.
About what I was disappointed though, is that his drama wasn't comedy to the end of it.
Also, first few episodes were awesome, few next ones... Not THAT much - still, very nice.

I really, really love these OSTs of Japanese Dramas. I always enjoy listening to them. Also, seems that the older series have more interesting ones (Hitotsu Yane no Shita, 101st Marriage Proposal or just Beach Boys - I enjoyed listening them much more than Ryusei no Kizuna or Triangle).
At this moment I can't find the second one anywhere, but I'll keep trying. Yes, that dramas has got 2 soundtrack! Awesome, isn't it?
Yet, the fact is that special "episode" (its length is 2 hours, huh) is still before me. Looking forward to watch it soon. The opening theme ("Forever" by Takashi Sorimachi and Richie Sambora) is great, too. Simply, catchy jPop.


01. Forever (Chorus Version) (1:27)
02. Hold Me Tight(2:17)
03. On the Beach(2:54)
04. In the Deep(2:34)
05. Sing a Love Song for Me(4:17)
06. Forever 1970(2:32)
07. Walking in the Sunshine(3:15)
08. The Sound of the Swa [A. Guitar Version](2:22)
09. Bright Lichts Big City(3:34)
10. Good Luck & Bood Bye(2:37)
11. The Sound of the Sea(2:32)
12. Wipe Out(2:21)
13. Forever (Piano Version)(1:50)
14. Friends'(2:18)
15. Fly Like A Mountain Bird(2:43)
16. Forever (Chorus Version) (2:08)

length: 41:31 min 

Definitely recommended, tv series and ost as well. 

3 Aug 2011

Symphonic Odysseys report

The original, Polish text of my report you can find here. In a bigger part, I didn't change the text while translating to English much, but it's not as official as there. That's the reason I mention about more facts and upload some photos. Btw., Blogger sucks when it comes to setting them. Maybe I'll change it to Wordpress or something if there is better, because I'm really fed up about that. Or maybe it's just a matter of design?


No matter what could happened, I would never became a real fan of Nobuo Uematsu. He is just too controversial for me. However, what I must admit, his music in symphonic arrangements is wonderful, truly beautiful.  I don't want to connect my thoughts about his creativeness with the report, so I will go to the point. The "Symphonic Odysseys" concert should be special, something I would remember all my life. Was it?

Before we headed straight to the philharmonic, we met with an administrator of GameMusic.net, Mariusz Borkowski. It was great to get to know with him for the first time. Thanks to that I also received an album of Final Fantasy VIII (I had actually nothing to get an autograph on) and promised to write a report of the concert and review of the album. Of course I agreed!

I have never imagined that my visit in the Philharmonic of Cologne could be possible. But finally, after many decisions and experiences, it became reality. Eventually I was inside of it.

What we realized while waiting for the meeting with Nobuo Uematsu, is that there are standing tickets for just €6. 
If I knew it earlier, maybe I would manage to get on Symphonic Legends last year... That's a shame, really.

We all got the programs of the concert (only in German) and it is the second thing on which I have Uematsu's sign. When waiting, I got to know a French pair, so when I finally made my way to the composer, they took photos for me. I didn't manage to talk to him much, but greetings, sharing smiles, getting 2 autographs and thanking him was enough.










 With every next moment I felt more and more excited, however, just when I took my step to the hall of the philharmonic... I felt like nowhere else before.

Where the hell am I? What is that? Now I can't remind how I felt at this time. The only one thing I can say... It definitely impressed me. I doubt I could see that beautiful construction anywhere in Poland. Of course I had to do some photos, but BE AWARE, they completely DON'T show the magnitude of this place, nor atmosphere. After I sobered, I started looking for my seat. Finding it eventually, I realized it is one of the best of the whole hall. I could see performers practically vis a vis. Few moments later, on my left side, I could see Nobuo, his manager and other stuff responsible for the concert walking in order to occupy some seats. They were really close to me, I could see them and take many photos, instead I did shitty ones, but... forgive me, I wasn't thinking about the future at this moment. The orchestra and choir came soon and I also managed to record the tuning..
Obviously, I was waiting for the concert to begin, though I still needed to keep admiring the space.

Arnie Roth (the conductor, in the case if someone doesn't know/remember) is coming! It means just a moment and they are about to start.


  
 1. Opening Fanfare by Nobuo Uematsu 
Arranger: Jonne Valtonen


Even if you don't know the program, it was obvious that the concert of "Symphonic" series would start by fanfare. Composed by Uematsu and arranged by Jonne Valtonen was especially prepared for this event. Amazingly introduced the audience (along with me) to the atmosphere of it. It was a fantastic experience to hear the WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln fo the first time. But, it was just the beginning.


Would be possible if the concert was without presenter (Daniel Hartwich)? He came and almost the whole event spoke in...German, what kind of restricted me. Anyhow, I was prepared to listen to the music, so it wasn't an actual problem for me.


2. Final Fantasy (Concerto for Piano and Orchestra ) 
Arranger: Roger Wanamo

 I. Grave - Allegro
II. Adagio cantabile
III. Allegro molto
 

 Just the title of the next composition made me thinking about personifying the music of video games to the regular classical repertoire. Final Fantasy Piano Concerto, divided into 3 parts, surely sounded that way.
What was obvious, in the role of soloist appeared Benyamin Nuss. It was clear to see that he is very promoted. On the poster of the concert we haven't seen Nobuo Uematsu or the conductor, but him. It worried me a bit, because it means this concert wasn't really treated in the international way (the other example is presenter speaking German). However, all what does matter is the fact that he is a FANTASTIC pianist (maybe I'll write about his solo CD and how it impressed me).

It was expected that there will be connected at least few motives of various parts of Final Fantasy.
Maybe I'm not so well-known with the music of all of them, yet I recognized most themes. Anyway, I prefer to judge this performance not thinking about what certain motive of what game was included in it.
It was amazing! I know works of many unforgotten composers who were creating a lot of piano concertos and comparing them to this one is definitely appropriator. I think it is worth to keep supporting this idea, means creating concertos and symphonies from Video Game Music and promoting them. The library of just Nobuo Uematsu is enormous.

The first and third part contained mainly loud and energetic rhythms, where we were listening to the main and battles themes from different parts of Final Fantasy. I suspected that in the second "Aerith's Theme" would be used for sure, and I was actually right. However... This performance I definitely couldn't imagine. First tear staggered in my eyes. Benyamin Nuss was simply splendid. I would say that everyone did what was supposed to, perfectly, without a tiny fail, freely and slightly. It didn't change for the rest of the concert.

Of course there were insertions in which the main part took Hartwich. He asked Arnie "If you were about to be in a world of rpg, what character you would like to be?". The answer didn't take him much time, causing a strong applause of the public - "Chocobo!".


3. King’s Knight (A Pretty Day Out) 
Arranger: Jonne Valtonen Lyricist: Mikko Laine


Next, they played "King's Knight". We could listen to the choir for the first time, but in what a way they performed! It's hard for me to describe in word this kind of fifes in which they have been blowing. It sounded awesome, witty but beautiful. A wonderful orchestration, with a horn directing the main theme of the track. Choir also appeared in its typical role.

4. Chrono Trigger (Silent Light) 
Arranger: Jonne Valtonen Lyricist: Mikko Laine



The arrangement of "Silent Light"  was probably the biggest surprise. But how successful! The orchestra were resting while we could listen to the choir for approximately 5 minutes. Track being 2x longer than the original surely needed an extension. So really big applause are appreciate for the lyricist, Mikko Laine, as well as arranger of course. Bravo Jonne Valtonen, very courageous decision!


 5. The Final Fantasy Legend and Final Fantasy Legend II (Main Theme and Save the World)
Arranger: Jonne Valtonen



For me, this one was a big unknown. I had never have an occasion to listen to the music from Final Fantasy Legend nor even knew it exists. Mostly, the arrangement was kept in the atmosphere of fanfare, where we could hear slightly changing melodic lines. I guess that it wasn't very sophisticated and demanding, but anyway, sounded marvelous.


6. Final Fantasy X (A Fleeting Dream) 
Arranger: Roger Wanamo Lyricist: Mikko Laine 


"A Fleeting Dream" from Final Fantasy X probably moved me most. An incredible composition, arrangement and performance. With every next second tension has been increasing, but the piece was ended by muting.


The interval was announced and I just couldn't wait for its end.
It is clearly to notice that the second part contained newer compositions of Nobuo Uematsu. As it turned out, definitely not of the lower level than his earlier works.





 7. The Last Story (Spreading Your Wings) 
Arranger: Jani Laaksonen


The music of "The Last Story"  was said not being known in Europe, what made it prestigious at the concert. They performed "Spreading Your Wings", which was constructed mainly by just a one melodic line. However, it was splendidly varied.


8. Final Fantasy XIV (On Windy Meadows)

Arranger: Jonne Valtonen

 

"On Wind Meadows" offered a little exoticism. By saying that I especially mean the unconventional way of how musician played, for example using their hands or bows to tapping their instruments. Very important was flute, giving rhythm for the main theme.  





9. Blue Dragon (Waterside) 
Arranger: Jonne Valtonen



From "Blue Dragon" was presented probably the best-known from its soundtrack "Waterside". The performance needed concertmaster of the orchestra playing as a soloist. As well as orchestra, he was outstanding. It was kind of slow, calm, very gentle track, what was rather exceptional at Symphonic Odysseys.


10. Lost Odyssey (Suite)
Arranger: Jonne Valtonen Lyricist: Mikko Laine


I. Prologue (Main Theme)
II. A For midable Enemy Appears!
III. A Sad Tolten
IV. Dark Saint
V. Light of Blessing A Letter
VI. Epilogue (Main Theme Reprise) 
 
 
Unexpectedly fast one of the main point of the concert was about to be played. The music from Lost Odyssey surely impressed me, that's why I was really looking forward to listen to it at the concert. The most important role in the suite played the main theme, which was appearing and vanishing in order to eventually finish the composition. Obviously, there were many more beautiful motives, list of which is described above.

At the certain moment happened something what I wanted really badly - organ sounded! When I made my way to the hall, seeing its enormity, I hoped to hear them as well. I wasn't disappointed, extremely powerful yet clear sound. Ending of the suite stretched kind of long, but I'm saying it definitely not in a negative way.

The end? Whatta hell? What do you mean by that? Really, it was not possible to believe that more than 2 hours already gone. The whole stuff responsible for the concert were invited on the stage, together with the composer. Uematsu has been given sausages for his dog and everyone received gifts.  

Obviously, together with the audience (standing ovations) we have been waiting for encores...


Encore #1




When Arnie exclaimed FF X as a first one (played together with Beyamin Nuss), I was sure there is an another awaiting us. I just didn't think the concert could end in any other way than with FF VII. But let's focus on this track. It consisted mainly of solo performance by Nuss. It was a great decision to invite him on stage once again. He was really awesome. After the next applause, the last unofficial point came - Arnie had up his sleeve one more "surprise" - a medley of battle themes of FF VII.


Encore #2


"Those who fight", "J-E-N-O-V-A", "Birth of god" and obviously, "One-winged Angel" running throughout the whole track. Extremely well thought arrangement, though you could suspect it to be a bit longer. There was also a comic moment, when suddenly one of the musician started to play on the drum improvising Ronny Barakk and his darbouka 2 years ago at Symphonic Fantasies. In this case, this solo wasn't that long.

Yeah, this time it's really the end. We could possibly expect a full version of "One-Winged Angel" or something, but they didn't decide to do such a thing. Probably right, it would be too simply. We just had to clap as much power we had. And for something that beautiful there should be much enough.



Every moment I spend at Symphonic Fantasies gave me chills. Wealth of Nobuo Uematsu's music is hard to describe by words. Melody, melody and once again, melody. I'm not the first person to mention that a big part of his music presents melancholia, nostalgia, sadness. Here we had everything. Thomas Bocker as well as arrangers made the concert sound patchily.

What I can't sop admiring is the way of how musicians played. For them it was all easy. I was very close to the stage and I saw smiles and joy on the faces of the orchestra members, even while playing. They just knew what to do and really, they didn't make a single mistake. Incredible team, I hope to meet them again.

We will see what future show us in the topic of the music from video games... If sea won't separate me, I'm able to hitch-hike and do other abnormal thing for me again.



18 Jul 2011

Nippon Banzai!

Nippon Banzai! The first semi-final, the first final, the first victory of Japan in Women's Football World Cup. Not mentioning beating the host which has been victorious in this event for last 2 editions (Germany).
I haven't been so excited for a long time. Wonderful girls.
I can't really believe how amazing Sawa is. Every of her pass is going straight away to her colleague.
Everything in this match was outstanding. I was sure about the final result, though ;).
Here it is.

4 Jul 2011

Symphonic Odysseys - program

Here is a program of Symphonic Odysseys:
http://www.symphonicodysseys.com/SymphonicOdysseys_ProgrammOnlineSheet.pdf

To be honest, I really like the idea of doing it this way, as this is a typical, classical/symphonic music concert.

Hi again!
I'm going on Symphonic Odysseys tomorrow morning, hitch-hiking. After I return, I'll definitely report you how it was! I would write abut how/if my opinion of Noubo Uematsu changed and what I think about his other works (not only from Final Fantasy), but... I don't think I'll find the time yet today.

19 Jun 2011

Norwegian Wood



To tell you the truth, I was much looking forward to see an adaptation of "Norwegian Wood" by Haruki Murakami, since I've got really weak imagination and was interested how exactly it all looks in reality. I don't really know details, if same author had a share in making the movie, though. I also never heard about Tran Anh Hung (the director), but that's rather nothing surprising.


First, I should present what the story of "Norwegian Wood" is about.
Let me quote Wikipedia, since today I'm really lazy:

"In Tokyo in the late 1960s, students around the world are uniting to overthrow the establishment and high school student Toru Watanabe is a quiet and serious young Tokyo college student whose personal life is in tumult. Toru loses his best friend Kizuki after he inexplicably commits suicide. Toru, now becomes uncertain as to how he should view life and as he looks for a new life, enters a university in Tokyo. By chance, during a walk in a park Toru meets Kizuki's ex-girlfriend Naoko, and they grow close since they both share the same loss but as they grow even closer, Naoko's sense of loss also grows. At heart, Toru is deeply devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman.
After Naoko's 20th birthday, which she shares with Toru, she withdraws from the world and leaves for a sanitarium in a remote forest setting near Kyoto to regain some emotional stability. Toru is devastated by the situation, as he still has deep feelings for Naoko, but she is unable to reciprocate. He also lives with the influence of death everywhere, while Naoko feels as if some integral part of her has been permanently lost. He continues with his studies, and during the spring semester meets an attractive girl and fellow student Midori – outgoing, vivacious, supremely self-confident – who is everything that Naoko isn't. The story then follows Toru as he is torn between the two women in his life and he must choose between his past and his future."

The story was incredibly dramatized. Of course I can't deny its sadness, but I still remember there were also some funny parts in original. Here you can hardly find any. Nothing about commando.

I'm thinking as to how people not reading book, find this film. For me, I can clearly say there are many fragments which you may recognize only if you read the novel. This adaptation is very shortened, and there are many scenes when the director wants to show you just a little hint and you should recall everything to yourself. That's how it looks like for me.
Does this make the public not-knowing the original like "what is happening?". I don't think so at all. They just have no idea this actual scene has a continuation.
Some of them also are kinda changed. Of course it is logical that they shouldn't or even couldn't not change anything, however sometimes I feel it is too much. Or they are shortened too - then you have a feeling that if they weren't, you would differently perceive a certain moment. Still, there were quotes simply taken from the book.

Judging by novel's texts, I really like heroes creations and the play of practically each of them (. Amazing are locations.



Music... So, music is very climatic for this dramatical image made by Tran Anh Hung. However, being frankly with you - I don't really recommend to listen to this soundtrack separately. In my opinion it's just boring. Not bad, but boring. Maybe even not repetitive, but too simply. Most of the score was composed by Jonny Greenwood about who many of you probably heard already. Yeah, he is a member of Radiohead and that's from where I know him best. It's funny how on Last.fm I noticed users calling him "a genius".
There are also few tracks by a rock group "Can".
And tell me, how is that possible that the main track of the whole story, Norwegian Wood by The Beatles is not placed on the CD? Unforgivable!
At least it was played on the movie - credits, but there was also a scene when Reiko (a friend of Naoko helping her to recover from a psychological pain) was playing it and singing - just like in the book. It's interesting there is roma-ji in tracklist used.




Even though it supposed to make you cry, I didn't feel to. I guess that was probably because I knew what will happen, sooner or later. I can't tell you how would that be in your case.
I'm not disappointed and I also feel glad I finally reached for that movie. I can't call it a masterpiece, but I'm happy it's actually consistent with the work of Haruki Murakami. 
However, I'm thinking about that there should be an another book of him adapted. There are more interesting titles to do it with them. I would die to watch "Kafka on the Shore" or "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle".
The point is that they present us also the world of fantasy and "Norwegian Wood" completely doesn't. It's good just to be a book and that's all.Unfortunately I don't have high hopes for any of them to be done. But time will show us...
Haruki Murakami is my favorite novel-writer for few years already. But practically every next day, I complain on myself - Why I read so less? 

5 Jun 2011

4th Film Music Festival in Kraków - Joe Hisaishi



Thursday, the 19th of May 2011 

Special guest: Joe Hisaishi – for the first time in Europe!

A concert prepared in collaboration with the legendary Japanese studio Ghibli 

Spirited Away 
Howl's Moving Castle 
Princess Mononoke 
Laputa – Castle in the Sky
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind 
Suites from Takeshi Kitano's films (including Hana–bi, Kids Return, Summer ) 
Wioletta Chodowicz – soprano 
Pro Musica Mundi Choir
Sinfonietta Cracovia
Boys' Choir of the Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic in Cracow
Joe Hisaishi – piano, Conductor



As I mentioned already in my previous post, there was a little problem with arriving to the right place where concert was held. But no wonder I was exaggerating. The fact that I will see the Master still seemed unbelievable for me and I believed something tragic could happen. Fortunately, it didn't seem to be the case.

The start of the concert was proceeded by the first meeting with presenters - Magdalena Miśka - Jackowska and Andrzej Młynarczyk. It's not like I was happy about that, even inversely. Just realize I would see them every next day.
When, after they hailed the name of Master, he first showed up coming from the backstage - I felt like my heart stopped. I will never forget this moment - applause loud like it was already after the concert. It is a feeling not possible to describe, to see a Man you wanted to see so much, but you were sure it is not possible in the near time. A person in whose music you fall in love, which took a very big role in your life.
To begin with, he thanked the orchestra (Sinfonietta Cracovia) and choirs (Pro Musica Mundi Choir,  Boys' Choir of the Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic in Cracow). Never mind about that. Joe was ready to play and so.... They started!

 First part 



Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

For people knowing the artist, probably nothing else was more expected that "Nausicaa" would open this concert. And so it was. After the  music of "Princess Mononoke", perhaps, that is my favorite work of Joe Hisaishi. How much exciting was it to listen to it live - just impossible to say. But just that it was his music, unfortunately, didn't mean the performance would be epic as well. It actually wasn't. While I have been listening I could concentrate about the sound, but I couldn't not hear there something wasn't quite right.
From just the beginning I have noticed some instruments playing not clear enough. Of course the whole suite wasn't bad performed at all - I just couldn't stop thinking how the exact moments supposed to be played, like in the original. But it wasn't the biggest problem. I heard a kind of noise, which definitely shouldn't be to hear. Fortunately not the whole concert was affected by it, especially only the beginning.
Both Choirs I found to be singing nice, but I wouldn't believe if that could go wrong.
About what I was most disappointed... Was a certain moment, completely changing the melody of suite. I love it most of the whole music for Nausicaa. And here they... They screwed it up, I must say it! I was waiting so long for hearing it and instead some kind of wind instrument drowned it. Maybe it still didn't sound bad, but I felt sad.
All piano parts were successfully, it's logical, because the pianist was just the Master.




Princess Mononoke


Definitely the most awaiting part of the concert, at least for me. I didn't even consider a possibility to not meet compositions of this Anime on the concert of Joe Hisaishi. Of course after Nausicaa's suite I was wondering how would the orchestra and choir performs this time. The beginning... I might call it the most awaiting motive - "Ashitaka's Theme". The best compositions of Joe ever, in my opinion. Here they used the same arrangement like in the concert in Budokan (actually the same was with Nausicaa), so I especially should be excited. Still, it wasn't so epic as it supposed to be! What irritated me most, was a fragment when trumpets played an important role. They didn't really discharged very well. About the choir... I don't really remember, however there also was something not perfect about it.
After that, there came TATARIGAMI - and hell, here I was really impressed, beautifully performed. Not worse was with the main theme of Princess Monnoke - Wioletta Chodowicz, soprano, was singing quite well. The only, maybe not big, problem was the language. It was English, not Japanese. And that was also very sad for me.

Second part


Keaton's "The General"
-I Movement
 -V Movement

At first, I wasn't sure if to cry or be happy to see a surprise like that. Then, so called, program of the concert was not needed to be written. You see it at the beginning of my post. How could they write it all down, when is not telling the truth? After a moment, I started to think about it a bit differently - the program is still actual, but just now, Joe decided to put something special. However, after all it really was a part of the not-anounced program. I wasn't prepare very well to listen to this, but on the other hand, maybe it was better this way?
"Keaton's The General" played by Sinfonietta Cracovia sounded really amazing. I remembered it from listening to studio CD not very well, yet I'm able to say that was magnificent.
Here the music was actively connected with the video. They just showed some part of the original movie. The music of Master really seems to be good relaying the atmosphere of it. Someday I need to watch it whole. Since that is a really old film, I believe it was mute. Is Joe the first "composer" of the music for "The General"? That's interesting.

Third part 


Departures ("Melodyphony")

I believe a big part of the crowd gathered in the hall, had no idea, but Joe began promoting his last studio album - "Melodyphony". Maybe I did mention about it earlier. It is a compilation of his best works. Or so internet surfers decided voting for certain compositions to be there.
Departures was definitely a good choice. After I listened the album several times, it became as a one of the best track on it. I guess there wouldn't be a problem no matter what instrument Joe would have to prepare compositions for. In "Departures" the main character is/was a cellist. During the play, video was amazingly connected with the sound, so we could see a main character playing cello in the same moment as the real cellist on the stage. What about him? Well, even though he was a soloist... I didn't see an information about his name. However, an opinion about his performance is nothing hard to reveal. I have a bad news - it wasn't as good to make me thrilled.



Spirited Away
- "One Summer's Day" ("Melodyphony")

Wouldn't he performs "Spirited Away"? No mater how different was the program - there was no possibility to not put something from this, I believe most famous, movie of Hayao Miyazaki. One Summer's Day is simply beautiful and since most important in it is the piano - there was no way for it to be bad performed. That's a shame there was no time to play more tracks. I would die to listen to "Reprise". I was so looking forward to it.



Kikujiro
- "Summer" ("Melodyphony")

Summer! Who doesn't love it? I bet there is anyone not at least liking this legendary motive, just after the first play. I found violins to be not playing exactly as they should (pizzicato), but there was no problem with the piano. That is the last movie with Hisaishi's inferential I have seen before this magic day, so I still remembered the movie very good - it was so amazing to see scenes from it on the screen.

Fourth part 



Brother
- Raging Men

Probably less awaited track from "Brother". Not any of those "nostalgic" ones were performed, but "Reging Men", I must admit that create a very good atmosphere (loud, brutal), especially for the next, creating a contrast...



Hana-bi

I never really loved HANA-BI theme, but as all of Joe's music, it has something beautiful in it. This depressing, nostalgic tune... I don't know how to describe it properly. I liked the fact they showed on the screen the scene with his wife, when he was "guessing" what card it was.


Kids Return

Awesome! So after all, much music from Kitano's films were performed. Some days ago, yet before the festival, I've posted the video of Kids Return live from youtube. Besides the astonishing arrangement, I think it also described as to how much I love this theme. Obviously, here we did deal with completely another kind of concert. I knew this arrangement quite good. I think performance here was also very good. I started to feel like with every next minute, performers are getting better! And you know? I wasn't wrong.

Fifth part 



Akunin
- The Villain Theme
- Tribute To Japan


Even though that was the last soundtrack for movie composed by Master - I was surprised. This one I couldn't enjoy very much, even after listening the full album few times. Maybe I need a bit more or maybe there is too less Hisaishi's style for me. I wouldn't say I didn't enjoy listening though - I really did.
After ending the main theme, something kinda expected happened - "Tribute to Japan", that is what. On the scene came again Wioletta Chodowicz. Unfortunately, I don't remember how were the lyrics or rather if they were the same as those ones in the original song in Akunin. But as far as I can recall, it was a very good connection. and fitted like everything else. What I mean by "everything else" is the music and video on the screen obviously, showing results of the disaster.

Sixth part


Ponyo


Above, I told you that performances were getting better with every next minute, right? I'm curious what would I heard if the event was longer. Ponyo was performed PERFECTLY. And it had everything in it - instrumental music, but also chorus and soprano. That definitely was the longest compositions played this day. Maybe a movie is a bit controversial, however - I can't deny the genuine of a music!
Not really realizing, it also was the end of the concert. Of course there just had to be encore, so after standing ovations, there it came... (they made a fail showing the title on the screen before Joe returned to play. Well, I guess we must realize the fact it was all prepared)...

Encores




Howl's Moving Castle
- The Merry-go-round of Life

The music for "Howl's Moving Castle" became quite popular. Especially this beautiful waltz. No "Cave of Mind", but I guess the encore can't be that long. Fantastic. But the real final...was after that...


My Neighbor Totoro


When they showed a poster and started playing - there was an applause. No wonder Totoro arouse the biggest emotions of Ghibli fans. This time... Or rather after the performance, well, it was really not possible to not be touched. Seeing Totoro on the screen along with listening to the music... Amazing. It was so cheering up and yet moving - as it is even without live experience. Choir singing "To-to-ro To-to-ro" became a hit among the public. The wild smile of Joe ending this concert - priceless.

It actually was hard to believe, but only  ~105 minutes after Joe started conducting - he ended it. It definitely seemed to be much shorter.
I don't have to say how strong was the applause.

A conclusion?
Even though there were some kind of fail and mistakes - I think it was the most epic evening of my life. About that, it was as I expected. The fact I also wanted and was sure to hear a perfect performance of all compositions, unfortunately didn't work. However...should I complain?


I felt incredible happy just about Joe Hisaishi arrival and I still feel happy and excited I had an occasion to see him. There is also a matter of tracklist - Some compositions I wanted to hear so badly were not played, including especially "Reprise" from Spirited Away, "Ashitaka and San" from Princess Mononoke, generally music from Kiki's Delivery Service, Sonatine... And many, many more. I can't believe Laputa wasn't played too. Porco Rosso is too jazzy for this kind of concert I suppose, though "Madness" would definitely fit.
I don't want to tell you in the review, how sad I'm though, about not seeing him personally and that I haven't got his autograph - I'll do this in the next entry, along with writing about next day's conference.





Here is an official video reportage of the 1st day of the festival, with English subs. I don't really recommend it to watch - annoyed me that they are talking generally about the event, not about yesterday's concert. Anyhow, you can listen to and watch few samples. They didn't show too much, though. Actually, very less.



All pictures of the show are taken from the FMF photo gallery. Thanks!