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.

No comments:

Post a Comment