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Concerto ~ The Extraordinary World of Concerto Gate :: Review by Chris

Concerto ~ The Extraordinary World of Concerto Gate Album Title: Concerto ~ The Extraordinary World of Concerto Gate
Record Label: Norstrilia Limited
Catalog No.: NSLCD-0006
Release Date: March 5, 2008
Purchase: Buy at VGM World


The Square Enix MMORPG Concerto Gate paired composers Hiroki Kikuta and Kenji Ito in a surprising move. Likely the reason for the collaboration is that both have had experience scoring Square Enix MMORPGs before — Kikuta the abandoned Korean MMORPG Bukyo and Ito the extensions of Cross Gate. Despite their friendship, the composers are almost polar opposites in terms of musicality and this is quite evident through Concerto Gate's score; though it is enjoyable and functional throughout, its artistic merit was somewhat reduced by the way Kikuta's subtle imagery-inspired creations were interrupted by Ito's shallow formulaic pieces. Kikuta decided that the best way to present his music would be in an independent release from his record label Nostrilia. Concerto ~ The Extraordinary World of Concerto Gate features Kikuta's 13 pieces from the game, supported by two image tracks, Italian musical titles, and an album cover dedicated to Lawrence Alma-Tadema's "Spring".


After an initial clamour, the image track "Ouverture" ("Overture") opens the album with soothing piano melodies written in the spirit of "Angel's Fear". The revealing development surely depicts renewal and growth with the emergence of spring. The town theme "Vivace" ("Lively") protrays children exploring a calm town with inquisitive woodwind melodies gently harmonised by whimsical tuned percussion motifs. "Mormorando" ("Murmuring") repeats and interweaves several motifs on organic instruments to achieve a subdued but elegant sound. "Sonoro" ("Sonorous"), in contrast, develops from a thoughtful open mood into a light militaristic piece using a range of authentic instruments. Dabbling further into the soundtrack, ambiguous flute melodies colour the explorative "Misterioso" ("Mysterious"), nasal woodwinds emphasise the delightful capricious character of "Leggero" ("Light"), and an acoustic guitar adds richness to the soundscape of "Declamoto" ("Declamation").

Despite the overriding calmness, there are several intense themes here. In a manner reminiscent of the volatile Seiken Densetsu 3, The panic theme "Presto" ("Fast") interrupts a string of peaceful tracks five pieces in. The shortest track on the album, its eccentric opening fanfare gives way to snare rolls and percussive piano work. It's unsurprising that "Ostinato" has been compared to Masaharu Iwata's tracks on Final Fantasy Tactics with its brisk snares, rhythmic string motifs, and resolute trumpet lines. One of the best developed tracks on the disc is the normal battle theme "Selvaggio" ("Savage"); the opening triumphant trumpet melodies and dynamic ostinati give way to strong build-up sections and even an impressionistic piano interlude. The boss theme "Appassionato" ("Passionate") is another doubled-edged sword, reverberating from serene flute passages to intense passages marked by modernist trumpet shrills, aggressive piano chords, and Psycho-esque marcato strings.

The piano takes a leading role in several tracks in addition to "Ouverture". An understated ostinato from the instrument forms the basis of "Soave" ("Mild"); the town theme soon captures the hearts of listeners with its romantic string use and lush woodwind development while the ostinato is curiously repeated almost without development. A related progression is used to harmonise "Serioso" ("Serious"); here the stern opening eventually gives way to expressive and exuberant development, culminating in a series of dark piano chords. One of the most profound tracks, "Lamentoso" ("Mournful") inspires contemplation with a beautiful soundscape consisting of ethereal piano echoes and wailing woodwind notes. After so many small ensemble tracks, "Coda" ends the album with a powerful orchestration. Exploring the emotions of the game, it encompasses vehement, contemplative, mysterious, spiritual, triumphant, and tranquil moments to provide perhaps the definitive highlight here.


Hiroki Kikuta adapts well to the environment of MMORPG scoring in Concerto Gate. Perhaps inspired by Final Fantasy XI's soundtracks, he largely focuses on organic instrumentation and slow ostinato-based development to create a subtle accompaniment to the game. He distinguishes his music by the way that he artistically demonstrates his inspirations from rich imagery and various emotions, creating a definite taste of spring. His distinctive musicality is also evident in most pieces, many of which display parallels to his work on the Seiken Densetsu series, though he channels other styles especially in the action themes. A likeable modest work, fans of Kikuta's Seiken Densetsu works should seriously considering purchasing this from VGM World.

Overall Score: 7/10