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Gyakuten Saiban Orchestra Concert CD :: Review by Chris

Gyakuten Saiban Orchestra Concert ~Gyakuten Meets Orchestra~ CD Album Title: Gyakuten Saiban Orchestra Concert ~Gyakuten Meets Orchestra~ CD
Record Label: Suleputer
Catalog No.: CPCA-10197
Release Date: July 16, 2008
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


On April 20, 2008, Capcom organised the ultimate live event for fans of the Phoenix Wright series, Gyakuten Saiban Orchestra Concert ~Gyakuten Meets Orchestra~. It featured the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra performing a selection of suites from cross the series, specially orchestrated by Noriyuki Iwadare. While many of the items were taken from the Gyakuten Saiban Orchestra Album ~Gyakuten Meets Orchestra~, most arrangements were adapted for live performance and there were some fantastic exclusives. Following the success of the concert, Capcom commissioned two additional concerts, an album release, and a DVD recording. The CD release offers all the performances from the event in superb sound quality and free from interruptions.


The first performance featured on the album is "A New Trial is in Session" from then-newest instalment Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. The Tokyo Philharmonic offer a richer performance than the chamber orchestra from the original Gyakuten Saiban Orchestra Album. In particular, the string and brass performers capture the atmosphere of the courtroom with their commanding melodies and resolute approach. Furthermore, Noriyuki Iwadare made a strong arrangement choice to replace the piano backing of the original with a rhythmically driving string basso ostinato. This change was necessary since the stage could not fit a piano, but actually worked to the concert's advantage. The only slightly detrimental feature is the tuned percussion, which sounds a little out of place for such a mature composition. A promising start to the experience. The recording also features a similarly toned march-like interpretation of Miles Edgeworth's theme "Great Revival". While a little too stiff for my tastes, it gradually picks up with the introspective interludes and the foreboding build-up prior to the recapitulation.

The album features jazzy performances of several other character themes. First up, Trial and Tribulations' Zenitora is given an especially catchy interpretation featuring swinging brass, samba percussion, and even a whistle solo. This item is actually adapted from the Gyakuten Meets Jazz Soul album, but doesn't feel at all out of place. The jazz focus continues with an altogether more contemplative intepretation of Godot's theme. The succession of tenor saxophone solos sometimes create the feeling of smooth jazz, but the improvisation is sufficient complex and the performance suitably deep to ensure the arrangement is far from supeficial. There are also more subdued flute and viola solos to enhance the timbal and emotional range of the item. Between them, the soloists certainly capture that distinctive fragrance of dark coffee. Those looking for other upbeat jazz-oriented works should leap to the end of the album. As the first encore, series' director Shu Takumi also conducted a rendition of "Oo-edo Soldier Tonosaman". Regretfully, the performance omitted the traditional Japanese instruments of the album orchestration. However, the booming percussion, confident trumpets, and passionate violins still recapture the appropriate flavour.

Early in the recording, listeners are presented with an extended suite based on the courtroom themes from the first three games in the series. The extended pipe organ opening is striking but out-of-place, given it focuses on Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" rather than original material. However, Noriyuki Iwadare does a good job of condensing three suites from the original orchestra album into a single coherent work, featuring expert transitions, plenty of dynamism, and a great dramatic arch. There is also an exclusive arrangement of the courtroom themes from Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney for the concert. The compositions and orchestrations largely stay true to the format of earlier courtroom themes in the series. However, drama is developed in a much more subtle way between the themes, so that the transitions in intensity are continuous like a real courtroom session, rather than discreet like the soundtrack release. There is an evolution from the warm yet suspenseful string opening based on the trial theme towards the much more tense and suspenseful adagio and allegro variations of the questioning theme. The suite culminates in in the emegence of the 'Pressing Pursuit' theme complete with powerful brassy melodies and bombastic percussive backing.

Fans also receive another exclusive suite on the concert recording, dedicated to the series' villain's themes. While Damon Gant's theme "Does Everyone Want to Swim?" is surprisingly serene, "The Murderous Gentleman's Pleasure" is quite sinister with the foreboding finger snapping and sleazy jazz influences. Following an abrupt transition, "Listen, Please!" provides something unique to the concert once more with its Romani-influenced fiddle work and intricate woodwind decoration. However, the centrepiece of the concert is Haruka Shimotsuki's performance of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney's "Loving Guitar's Serenade". While the English pronunciation is sometimes awkward, she generally proves a good choice of vocalist for the series with her youthful yet heartfelt approach. She is fluidly supported by some soft yet emotional orchestration. In addition, Iwadare himself proudly accompanies her on the Kanadeon — a unique music box prototype that uses MIDI input — though isn't always audible. However, some of the context is lost in the album release and it can be more emotional to watch Iwadare and Shimotsuki perform together in the DVD recording.

Moving to the end of the album, Iwadare also takes centre stage once more as the guest conductor for the famous "Gyakuten Sisters' Theme". The resultant item features a subdued and formal tone appropriate for the courtroom setting. However, it is coloured by more gushing, light-hearted, and nostalgic moments that will particularly appeal to the large female audience. Moving to the conclusion of the concert, Hirofumi Kurita takes the baton to perform Trials and Tribulations' ending theme. It's another subtle and modest orchestration, but nevertheless captures the lyricism of the original piece, features some standout performances by the concertmaster, and offers several momentous passages towards the climax. The album is rounded off with a rendition of Phoenix Wright's own character theme "Objection!". While this item served as a conservative opener for the studio orchestra album, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra ensure they present it as an emotional finale for this live recording. They really bring out the energy and emotion behind the piece and all sections of the orchestra receive their chance to shine.


This is the definitive arranged album for fans of the series. In comparison to the Gyakuten Saiban Orchestra Album, the Gyakuten Saiban Orchestra Concert features a more broader track list, more arrangements, and far richer performances. It's clear a lot of energy went into making each minute of the experience emotional for fans and this required a lot of elaborations and additions to the source material. Occasionally the approach is too conservative or, conversely, sentimental, yet there are enough exceptions to ensure an entertaining listen. Those looking to recreate the live experience may prefer the DVD recording, especially if they are familiar with the games and can understand Japanese. However, this album is worthwhile as a stand-alone listening experience and makes its predecessor essentially superfluous.

Overall Score: 9/10