I haven’t done any music post in a long while and what better time to do one on Joe Hisaishi‘s latest ‘Best of’ compilation album ‘Melodyphony‘ which was released recently. This particular album was rather special in that the music tracks were picked by fans from a poll conducted on Hisaishi’s website. The ones that gotten the most votes were selected for Hisaishi to perform with the prestigious London Symphony Orchestra and the sessions being recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London. How fantastic is that, eh?!
I gotta say that I loved nearly all the selections on the album. It’s no surprise to see Hisaishi’s Ghibli scores comprised the most tracks on it but that’s not to say his other non-Ghibli related compositions aren’t noteworthy. In fact, the ones chosen for the album’s tracklist are stellar in their own right and made me appreciate Fujisawa Mamoru-san’s all round effort as a composer. But sad to say I haven’t had the opportunity to watch the films/drama whose themes are featured on the album.
Two non-film tracks are also included i.e. ‘Oriental Wind’ (a delightful composition for an Ad) and ‘Orbis’, a commissioned work. Orbis was particularly interesting in that it’s quite different from what you would normally hear from Hisaishi, with a stirring choral section backing the orchestra as it course through the musical score, quite epic if I might say so… like a clash of the constellations in a Kagaya landscape. Needless to say, the LSO’s performance was amazing to listen to.
**Recommended for all Hisaishi fans.
01. Water Traveller (映画『水の旅人』メインテーマ)
– Theme from a film by Nobuhiko Obayashi called ‘The Water Traveler: Samurai Kids’. A rousing opening, adventure filled theme to open the album.
02. Oriental Wind (サントリー”伊右衛門”CM)
– CM for ‘Suntory Lemon’. I wouldn’t have known this was composed for a commercial if it wasn’t mentioned in the first place. It sounds like a piece from ‘The Cat Returns’ even though Hisaishi didn’t have anything to do with film’s soundtrack. 😛 It stirs up that same wondrous feeling of adventure which I got from watching ‘Neko no Ongaeshi’.
The special CM for Suntory featuring Miyazawa Rie
03. Kiki’s Delivery Service (映画『魔女の宅急便』より「海の見える街」)
– The very familiar theme to another Ghibli classic i.e. ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ with a slightly different arrangement. I love the atmosphere that emanates from this piece, reminds me of what a joy it is to watch Kiki finding her way in a brand new town.
04. Saka No Ue No Kumo (NHKスペシャルドラマ『坂の上の雲』より)
– Theme to NHK Drama ‘Clouds over the Hill’. This musical score seemed to capture the essence of the drama which depicts the lives and times of three childhood friends during a period of turmoil.
Original Soundtrack – Orchestral Version
Vocalized Version featuring the voice of Sarah Brightman
– She sings in a heavily accented Japanese xD. I love her angelic soprano voice but I would have love to listen to Ayaka Hirahara have a go at singing this song.
05. Departures (映画『おくりびと』より)
– Theme to Youjiro Takita’s award winning film ‘Okuribito’. I love the forlorn and mournful cello that made this track sounds sad in the beginning but as it progresses, it ascended into something hopeful and even rousing, ending in calm and quiet respite.
06. Summer (映画『菊次郎の夏』メインテーマ/トヨタ”カローラ”CM)
– Theme to ‘Kikujiro no Natsu’, a film by Kitano Takeshi. I can understand why this theme is a favourite of many. Very summery, slice of life feeling, recollecting an enjoyable moment spent in carefree surroundings. Nice.
07. Orbis (サントリー”1万人の第九”委嘱作品)
– Commissioned work for the Century Youth Orchestra.
08. One Summer’s Day (映画『千と千尋の神隠し』より「あの夏へ」)
– This is the opening theme to one of my favourite Ghibli film of all time and it’s non other than ‘Spirited Away’. Goodness knows how many times I’ve watched this film and it never ceases to enchant me. I personally feel that the film’s soundtrack is one of Hisaishi’s best compositions in association with Ghibli.
Original Soundtrack Version
Live Performance – Joe Hisaishi Piano Solo
I adore the solo piano rendition just as much as the full orchestral one
Live Performance – Vocal Version ‘Inochi no Namae‘
– Featuring the lovely voice of Ayaka Hirahara. There’s something about the vocal version that adds a deeper meaning to the overall theme. The lyrics are beautifully written to depict Sen’s feelings.
I just had to sneak this one in. I would have voted for this piece to be on the album but alas… this will do. Each time I listen to this piece, I’m swept by the ebb and flow of the music.
Live Performance of ‘Sixth Station‘ from ‘Spirited Away’
09. My Neighbor TOTORO (映画『となりのトトロ』より「となりのトトロ」)
– Every Ghibli fan should know this memorable theme. If you don’t, then please go knock your head against the wall. ‘Totoro’ is my first ever Ghibli experience and it’s one that stayed with me till now. This spirited little theme defines the world of Ghibli for me. Yay! for Totoro.
I wish this piece was included as well but hey, just because it didn’t make the cut as a fan selected track does not mean I can’t share it here…
Live Performance of ‘Kaze no Torimichi‘, another favourite Hisaishi score for ‘Totoro’. I love the cello instrumentation in this piece… so moving and beautiful.