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Gran Turismo 4 Original Soundtrack Classical Collection :: Review by Dave

Gran Turismo 4 Original Soundtrack Classical Collection Album Title: Gran Turismo 4 Original Soundtrack Classical Collection
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-1360
Release Date: March 24, 2005
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


The best things in life often come as a surprise, but sadly, so do the worst things. The Gran Turismo 4 Original Soundtrack Classical Collection is much like Christmas Day . It sounds as if it's going to be great, but when it comes down to opening your presents, you very rarely get what you wanted, and find you've exchanged an expensive gift for a pair of socks or disgusting Christmas sweater. This album is not a collection of original classical themes, but rather a disappointing and damaging set of arrangements of these by Yasuo Sako. The greats (e.g. Liszt, Debussy, Chopin, and Mussorgsky) may well be happy that they are not around to hear what has happened on this album, and you should be too if I manage to prevent you from listening. Rest assured, if you gave someone this album for Christmas and you received a ridiculous sweater from them, you're probably the one who is better off.


The main factor which makes these arrangements so weak is that although the melodies themselves remain largely untouched, there is an inappropriate and odd selection in instrumentation. Take Claude Debussy's gorgeous "Clare de Lune," for example: the main melody is now played on steel drums with a synth instrument and plucked strings littering the background — how on Earth could that ever sound like a good idea? This isn't as bad as the take on Pachelbel's "Canon," though, which features a misguided blend of a drum kit and harpsichord. This classic has received countless arrangements in the past, and I truly feel that this is one of the worst; in fact, I prefer the The Farm's version ("All Together Now"), which I've never held in high regard.

Another peeve which I have with the arrangements are how randomly they seem to end. Debussy's "Maiden with the Flaxen Hair," for example, abruptly ends with a ritardando and sudden accelerando on the last couple of beats. "Gymnop&eaute;die No. 1" ends in a mess of instruments with what seems to be an out of place note that is neither linked with the key signature, nor serves as any sort of resolve. As a last example, "Dreams" also seems to end abruptly after listening to a section which sounds more like it serves as a section which should lead into a recapitulation, rather than end to the track.

Don't get me wrong, the majority of the tracks are still enjoyable and listenable, and probably sound pretty good to the untrained ear. Those gamers who hear the arrangements of Satie's "Je te Veux" or Mendelssohn's "Spring Song" are likely to be impressed, since these are the two sole pieces which aren't entirely ruined by Sako's choice of arrangement. Furthermore, it's likely that there will be a fair few of you who may prefer the airy "Unaccompanied Cello Suite No.1 'Prelude'" or the passionate "Air on G String" over some of the original in-game music composed for Gran Turismo 4 by Isamu Ohira or Masahiro Andoh. The truth is, musically, these themes still remain solid; it's just that they are nowhere near executed to their full clarity or potential as intended.


I more than welcome arranged albums in music, and in fact feel that the best game music does sometimes come from said albums; the Gran Turismo series itself has in fact seen some great arranged tracks, such as the multiple arrangements of "Moon Over the Castle." This album though, is not one which holds any great importance in game music, for the three reasons that is mostly tasteless, misguided, and inappropriate. With all due respect to Yasuo Sako, who has arranged some decent themes for other games series such as Monster Hunter, I have a huge problem with this album's existence in its arranged form. I wouldn't suggest purchasing this album, but please do take a look into the original works of the great composers whose works are represented here. You are sure to fall in love with the original versions of "Rondo in D Major," "The Swan," and "Maiden with the Flaxen Hair" — a few favourites of mine!

Overall score: 3/10