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Dragon Quest V Symphonic Suite :: Review by Juan2Darien

Album Title Catalog No.
Dragon Quest V Symphonic Suite (NHK Symphony Orchestra) APCG-9004
Dragon Quest V Symphonic Suite (London Philharmonic Orchestra) SVWC-7065
Dragon Quest V Symphonic Suite (Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra) SVWC-7201


The Dragon Quest V Symphonic Suite continues Koichi Sugiyama's trend of musically interesting, at times vibrant, suites and medleys. The orchestrations are as colourful as Dragon Quest IV's, but the music here has a bit more structure, with great transitions between the sections of the medleys, than the previous album. The format for the review will be the same as the other ones. I will review the pieces separately, then I will compare the London Philharmonic Orchestra's and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra's performances, as they are the two most easily attainable recordings. Then, separately, I will review the NHK Symphony Orchestra's performance.

Track-by-Track Reviews

1) Overture

For Dragon Quest IV, Koichi Sugiyama threw in a bit of variation with the famous "Overture". It began with a single, sustained note by the trumpet while the strings and winds provided suitable chord progressions. Well, that same beginning is found here, although this arrangement contains much more complex passages after that. The main melody is still left untouched, but the accompaniment is richer, with woodwind trills and a constant barrage of cymbals and snare drums.

I don't find either performance particularly notable, although the Tokyo Metropolitan's performance is noticeably slower, and therefore it kind of kills the rousing mood that this piece is meant to inspire. The sound quality is rather stale with seemingly no resonance on the percussion, which drowns most everything else out. Actually, it sounds like the initial trumpet opening is a tad off — they're getting pretty close, but they don't quite hit the right high note. The London Philharmonic's performance seems very uninspired, as if they are as bored with this piece as I believe I am getting. At least they hit the right notes and the right times, though.

The NHK Symphony is a disaster. For one, the brass sounds completely artificial for whatever reasons. The percussion sounds sloppy, and in fact the entire orchestra doesn't seem to be following a common tempo. The percussion hits are always slightly late, and eventually the melody seems to come slightly too early. The woodwind trills are present although you can't exactly tell what notes they are playing, and the strings sound out of tune toward the beginning. In short, none of the three performances are particularly... good.

Scores: Enjoyment - 7/10 / NHK - 4/10 / London Phil - 8/10 / Tokyo Met - 7/10

2) Castle Trumpeter

The past few castle themes we've received by Sugiyama have been strings only, which, as good as they were, restricted the pieces from, obviously, evoking any kind of orchestrational colour. It is simply amazing, then, to hear how much more colourful this piece is with but a solo trumpet. The piece starts off strong with the melody being heard by the trumpet with string accompaniment. The strings take over the piece for a bit until the next section of the melody coming in with a minor-key trumpet arpeggio. The chord progressions are a bit standard sounding, but Sugiyama handles the counterpoint between the instruments with great skill.

The London Philharmonic plays with typical precision, and the recording captures the trumpet in all its glory. Every note is sharp yet resonant. The Tokyo Metropolitan strings sound a bit too relaxed, as does the trumpet for that matter. The issue that the Tokyo Met has had with past recordings is present yet again. There is too, too, too much reverb! I cannot stress that enough. The string parts all tend to blend together, and the playing is too dramatic. This piece requires a steady embouchure, and there is just too much rubato in this recording.

I wonder how big the NHK Symphony Orchestra is, because on "Castle Trumpeter" it sounds like a very small orchestra that has the microphones placed much too close to make up for this fact. The trumpet sounds synthetic again, being quite muffled with a quality that I can't seem to figure out the words for... it sounds like someone is just hitting the keys on a keyboard to make the trumpet sound; each note is self contained and has little to do with the phrase, the theme, or the piece at all. The strings are equally muffled until they play their trills, then, they're very loud, for whatever reason.

Scores: Enjoyment - 9/10 / NHK - 3/10 / London Phil - 10/10 / Tokyo Met - 7/10

3) Melody in an Ancient Town ~ Toward the Horizon ~ Casino ~ Lively Town

Wouldn't it have been easier to just call the piece "Melody in an Ancient Town"? Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite did something similar by having the town medley called "Around the World", or what about Dragon Quest IV's mammoth "Comrades" medley. That had a one-word title and totaled in at over ten minutes long. I guess it is because no true soundtrack was ever released for the title to compare tracks with. Well, apart from that shallow quibble, the piece is just tops. Beginning with some pizzicato strings, the melody comes in with a flute and vibraphone duet with some light, tapping percussion. Sweeping strings come in to carry the theme to its next phrase, leading to the repeat. Sugiyama's transitions here are remarkably smooth. He elaborates on the present theme, slowing it down, modulating it a bit, and adding some interesting harmonies that cause it to flow fluidly into the next section.

This is my favourite part of the track, having a steady rhythm kept by strings as winds provide the melody. Then a mighty crescendo brings the piece to a more powerful statement of this very attractive theme for strings. The piece slows very abruptly, only to build, with a strange little fanfare leading the way, into the "Casino" section. It features a clarinet solo, playing the jazzy theme amid pizzicato and light percussion. The next section is very playful with a flute solo playing over more pizzicato strings. The orchestrations here are lovely, although the melody is somewhat predictable in later sections. As this section slows, a reprisal of the first section is heard, leading the piece to its final, happy chords by pizzicato strings.

The percussion and harmonies at the beginning of the Tokyo Metropolitan recording drown out the actual melody, although the strings command much more attention, rising above the pesky tapping. The contrast between this section and the next is also too much. The clarinet solo begins to slow down until it has nearly stopped; then, the next melody comes in much faster than the London Philharmonic recording. Somehow the tambourine has a very stale sound, absent of any resonance; this is particularly strange since everything else seems to echo endlessly. Once the "Casino" section comes in, the percussion, again, drowns out the clarinet. The Tokyo Met, however, nails the "Lively Town" section, breaking from their habit of over-dramatizing the music. The transition back to the beginning is a bit sloppy, though. In "Lively Town", I find the London Philharmonic's playing to be rather superficial, although all the surrounding sections are characteristically flawless. Every painstaking detail is heard, although there is also a greater sense of the 'whole' of the piece. You can hear the individual parts and see how they make up this lovely track.

The NHK Symphony has a very tinny sound here, with everything staying somewhat in the middle of the volume range. The crescendos aren't that good because, as loud as they can get, they don't quiet back down enough. The playing is also a bit more bouncy than in the other recordings, even in the dramatic second section. However, this recording nails every single transition to each new section... just not the sections themselves. Their rendition of "Casino" is probably the strongest, also, with the clarinet having an extra bounce and presence that is absent from the other recordings.

Scores: Enjoyment - 10/10 / NHK - 6/10 / London Phil - 10/10 / Tokyo Met - 8/10

4) Magic Carpet ~ The Ocean

I feel that Sugiyama's flying themes are usually a series of hits-and-misses. Musically, "Magic Carpet" is quite interesting, beginning cheerfully with swirling woodwinds before moving into a mysterious, beautiful section for strings. There is great interaction between the woodwinds, which comprise most of this section. There is a section towards the middle that reminds me a bit of Dragon Quest IV's "Balloon's Flight", but without the constantly shifting metre. A lush section for strings, with the melody carried by the cellos, brings the piece to a repeat, but with considerably richer orchestrations.

The next section is approached by strings and the strumming of the harp. The melody of "The Ocean" is a bit strange. I feel that, like Dragon Quest III's "Heavenly Flight", it sounds a tad superficial with Sugiyama trying his hardest to write something 'sweeping' and 'romantic' and coming up with something utterly banal. The piece does have its moments of strong string writing, but overall I find it to be a rather unattractive piece of music. One issue that is quite new for Sugiyama here is the fact that his orchestrations are too thick. Simplicity would have suited the melody better, but instead Sugiyama tries adding up too many layers. "The Ocean" is like a very rich meal; all the flavours sound divine, like the fluttering woodwinds or the brass choirs or the unison strings, but when they are combined, you find that the end product is far too rich.

The pros of the London Philharmonic's typical sound has become its greatest con with this piece. They fare spectacularly with "Magic Carpet", meeting the intricate wind writing with ease, but when "The Ocean" comes in, as I said, with far too much going on, the crystal clarity of the London Phil just makes it sound quite awful. For "Magic Carpet", the Tokyo Metropolitan's extreme resonance obscures the tiny details that Sugiyama has written, but in "The Ocean" it obscures all the lesser parts, letting the melody and simple harmonies reign. It's a toss up between the performances. One section is perfected by the London Phil and skewed by the Tokyo Met, and vice versa.

Man, either those strings of the NHK Symphony are attempting the string equivalent of a warble or they are out of tune. The brass harmonies in "Magic Carpet" are too punchy, killing the fluidity of the piece. The muffled sound obscures the orchestrations in "Magic Carpet". The strings aren't strong enough "The Ocean", and the brass is, again, too punchy and the percussion is laughably weak.

Scores: Enjoyment - 7/10 / NHK - 5/10 / London Phil - 7/10 / Tokyo Met - 7/10

5) Melody of Love

The name of the track says it all. This is not the kind of uber-sappy, melodramatic, "Titanic"-esque calf-love, but something much more special and serious. The melody is very romantic, being first carried by a low flute solo amid the gentle strumming of the harp. When the melody repeats, tremolo strings and a lovely clarinet counterpoint are added. Flighty strings take the piece away with brass chords. When the first cadence approaches, the piece slows to a halt before a solo violin picks up the theme with pizzicato accompaniment. The great thing I love about this piece is not the flowing, majestic orchestrations or the sweeping statements of the theme, but rather I find the soloist work on this piece to be the most inspiring. The alto flute in the beginning, the solo violin in the middle, and at the very end, a horn solo are simply magical.

What good are soloists if their contributions aren't heard with superb clarity? Not much, I'd say. The opening flute solo on the Tokyo Metropolitan recording is a bit too soft, and the violin comes off a bit stale or over-miked. Luckily, the more sweeping statements of the theme are lovely and flowing, never descending into melodrama like the London Philharmonic threatens to do on a few occasions. Regardless of these compliments I have for the Tokyo Met, the better recording is the London Phil. The soloists are the main feature of this track, and with the London Phil, they are given perfect performances and clear sound quality.

Is it possible for a recording to sound nasally? Well, the NHK proves that it is! Congratulations for them. Unfortunately for us, the listeners, this is not a desirable result. The flute sounds stuffy, although the string section plays the piece with typical, sharp precision. Therefore, the violin solo is actually quite good, although still not better than the London Philharmonic's version. Surprisingly, the horn solo at the end is one of the best parts, rivaling the London Phil's soloist. The sharp, edgy sound of the horn solo does not diminish the track as it seems it would, but instead enhances it with, simply put, pure emotion.

Scores: Enjoyment - 9/10 / NHK - 8/10 / London Phil - 9/10 / Tokyo Met - 8/10

6) Monsters in the Dungeon ~ Tower of Death ~ Death World

I feel quite strangely about this track. For one, it never really decides which stance to take. Is it an experimental track or is it an emotional track? Well, the emotion in this track is slightly nonexistent, so it mustn't be that kind of piece. But on the other hand, this track is certainly not as experimental as some of the other tracks on this album, or even compared to Sugiyama's other dungeon tracks. The piece has warmed up to me considerably, and once I realized that Sugiyama was experimenting with textures and rhythms rather than colourful orchestrations, I began to really admire this piece. Beginning with swirling textures for strings, a melody on the oboe emerges, punctuated by brass chords. The chord progressions are quite interesting, and the layers of harmony keep building and building until the repeat comes. The orchestrations are slightly altered here, with clarinets providing the swirling textures while strings take on the melody.

The transition to the next section is seamless, with the string writing alternating between legato and staccato while the oboe takes on this next melody. There is a great amount of dissonance in this section, although it is a rather playful section, almost jazzy in nature. A clarinet makes the transition to the next section, beginning with a piccolo solo followed by some strangely carefree sounding brass and an interesting duet between flute and bassoon. This is probably the least interesting section and doesn't quite fit in well because of the thinness of the orchestrations. Thankfully, it is short and some clever string writing transforms into the swirling textures and suddenly we're back at the beginning of the piece.

This piece excels at evoking mood, suggesting that perhaps the transparency that the London Philharmonic usually brings to the table will actually be its greatest deterrent. Well, you'd never guess, but it doesn't quite work out that way simply because the brass in the Tokyo Metropolitan is clearer sounding than usual, even outdoing the London Phil's clarity. What does this mean? That the brass overpowers the melody on the Tokyo Met recording. While neither recording perfectly represents this piece, then, the London Phil comes closest to getting it right, even though the thinness of the orchestrations in the third section are made painfully obvious by the clear sound quality.

The muffled sound quality on the NHK Symphony once again diminishes the quality of a track. The worst part of it is that this recording gets all of the harmonies in the opening section pitch perfect, with a performance that has both precision and atmosphere, while the melodies, carried by the winds, are far too distant sounding. If there were a way to combine this recording's harmonies with the London Phil's melodies, and we would have the definitive recording of this piece.

Scores: Enjoyment - 8/10 / NHK - 7/10 / London Phil - 9/10 / Tokyo Met - 7/10

7) Make Me Feel Sad

Do you remember, only a few tracks ago, when I said that "Melody of Love" succeeded because it didn't try to be all gushingly romantic and sappy? Well, this piece is the antithesis of that one, being overly sentimental, so much so that I do not feel sad after hearing this track. Literally jumping right into the piece without so much as an introduction, the melody carried by strings is pretty comprised of scales with some standard chord progressions. There is a more pleasant, yet no less trite, section separating statements of the theme, first by winds before an oboe carries the main melody, then by strings, but overall, I usually just skip this track.

The orchestrations here aren't particularly florid or special in anyway, so the London Philharmonic's transparent recording does little good. Also, the Tokyo Met's knack for dynamics is wasted here, as the track is utterly sappy. Strangely, though, the Tokyo Met plays with a bit more restraint than usual here. They play the piece very steadily, making it the better recording by a smidgeon. The NHK Symphony never recorded this piece.

Scores: Enjoyment - 5/10 / London Phil - 6/10 / Tokyo Met - 7/10

8) Violent Enemies ~ The Almighty Boss Devil is Challenged

After beginning with descending, tremolo string figures, a quick-paced melody emerges for trumpets. The strings come in to carry the melody to its next phrases, which are separated by rhythmic brass. The piece throws in some clever modulations and nice orchestrations, at one point having everything but the trumpets drop out to wondrous effect. Very subliminally, the horns give a statement of a theme that will be greatly expanded upon in the next track, another sign of Sugiyama's thematic continuity (a trait which will reach full fruition with Dragon Quest VI Symphonic Suite). After a nearly verbatim repeat, the piece drops off quite quickly into a softer section for winds and harp amid soft washes of strings. There are fragments of a melody played, at first by a flute, then, an oboe, that were first heard in "Toward the Horizon".

This section ends rather quick as snare drums usher in the next, incredibly brutal section for blaring brass and rhythmic strings. There is a short, two-note motif that is expanded in this section. As simple as that sounds, the development of that motif by Sugiyama is quite rewarding. There is a slower, but still rather intense, segment where the "Noble Requiem" theme (heard in the previous section) is heard by the cellos. Then the motif is heard again with shrieking piccolos added to the mix. The finale is rather standard sounding for Sugiyama. It involves a buildup by strings and brass, leading to a final discordant note. This piece is further proof that Sugiyama's battle tracks, when he delivers, can be spectacular and intense.

The beginning section in the Tokyo Metropolitan is played at a much faster tempo, making the piece nearly fall apart. The snare drums are blaringly loud while the strings and, occasionally, the brass is forced to take the back seat. However, strangely enough, "The Almighty Boss Devil is Challenged" section on the Tokyo Met recording is crystal clear. This is not, however, due to the recording quality, which still has much too much resonance, but the fact that the brass, which should be the most prevalent element, is mixed quite poorly. The main motif heard by horns and trumpets never reaches the same kind of volume as in the London Philharmonic, however the underlying, rhythmic trombones are heard perfectly (that's not a compliment). Do I even have to say how the London Phil performs? They are precise, the sound is immediate and clear, and this recording is the best and the most intense.

A piece dominated by brass? Sounds like the perfect piece for the NHK Symphony to botch, and man, they didn't let me down. The strings are, as always, sharp and present, and the brass is muffled and artificial sounding. At one point in the opening section, the brass even makes a performance error, obviously missing a note. Because the brass is still characteristically weak here, the climaxes in the second section never achieve the volume they should. The piece ends up sounding, to quote myself from a different review, like a parody of a battle track rather than an actual battle track.

Scores: Enjoyment - 10/10 / NHK - 4/10 / London Phil - 10/10 / Tokyo Met - 7/10

9) Noble Requiem ~ Saint

"Noble Requiem" is a bleak piece of music, but, unlike Dragon Quest II's "Requiem", it is also quite interesting and emotional. The piece begins with a low, discordant motif for double basses amid a constant pulse kept by the timpani. It is a simple theme, first heard in two different guises in the previous track, that continually gains more layers until the final statement of the theme before the repeat contains some splendidly intricate string work. After this rich section repeats, the most somber part of the piece is heard. The double basses play about as low as they can while tremolo strings and carillon play fragments of the melody.

Once this section ends, "Saint" comes in with a hopeful melody for the oboe. The oboe is the main attraction here while the strings play very softly. Unfortunately, this last section doesn't fit in too well since "Noble Requiem" was a very structured and finished piece, and "Saint" boasts an oboe solo. Taken by themselves, they are great pieces of music, and, for all the inappropriateness of having "Saint" tacked on to the great "Noble Requiem", I can't help but give this piece a perfect score.

The Tokyo Metropolitan fares better in the beginning, when the string writing is thin, but when the complexity starts to build up increasingly, it is the London Philharmonic that steals the show. The dynamics are great in the London Phil recording, with the orchestra slowly achieving their crescendos and climaxes, as is the emotion of the piece. The Tokyo Met also doesn't match the London Philharmonic on "Saint". There is something too distant and lazy about the oboe solo that just doesn't suit the piece well.

Now, a piece written specifically for strings sounds like the perfect job for the NHK Symphony. I almost burst into laughter when I heard their rendition of the NHK because, for all the other tracks where the strings were crystal clear and sharp and emotional, they too suffer from being too muddled here. I am amazed at this. The NHK had the potential to at least tie the London Philharmonic, whose performance was flawless, and now I believe that the NHK is just taunting me. Another failure by the orchestra.

Scores: Enjoyment - 10/10 / NHK - 5/10 / London Phil - 10/10 / Tokyo Met - 8/10

10) Satan

And we're back to the bleak, uninspired battle / boss tracks by Sugiyama. Apart from the spectacularly intense beginning for pounding timpani and orchestral hits, this track is really dull. A steady rhythm is kept by pulsing brass as the horns provide the rather nondescript melody, with phrases separated by a shrieking piccolo. When the piccolo is allowed to carry the melody for a bit, the piece begins to pick up with some rhythmic strings and percussion, before brass and wind combinations begin to play the melody. There is an extended section for very discordant, even grating, but intricate string writing. Then it's back to the same old. The finale is perfect, however, featuring the technique from the beginning, with timpani and orchestral hits, but with much greater intensity and longer passages.

The Tokyo Metropolitan seems to be having a case of the NHK syndrome. The opening timpani is very hazy sounding, and the piccolo solos are equally tame. In fact, with the Tokyo Met, this piece never achieves any kind of intensity, with the dissonant string writing in the middle even sounding a bit too smooth. What more can be said about the London Philharmonic? Nothing, in fact, without retreading the same few phrases: technical precision, superb sound quality, etc., etc., etc. Like a few other tracks, however, the clearness of the recording quality ends up being the London Phil's greatest vice. This piece alternates between complex passages and, for the majority of the piece, painful simplicity. Hearing a detailed recording like the London Phil's makes these passages sound perhaps even thinner than they are.

The NHK Symphony does surprisingly well with this piece. The opening orchestral hits are weak, but when the melody comes in, the crisp, edgy, almost artificial sounds of the brass suit the piece well. The pulsing of the trombone, however, is too loud and sounds rather laughable. The string interlude does quite well, though, with a performance that is edgy and atmospheric. There is no clear-cut winner for this track, although the London Phil has the slight edge.

Scores: Enjoyment - 6/10 / NHK - 6/10 / London Phil - 8/10 / Tokyo Met - 7/10

11) Heaven

I consider "Heaven" to be a castle theme because of the way it is constructed. The string writing is similar to Dragon Quest IV's "Unknown Castle" and Dragon Quest II's "Chateau", with a steady rhythm being kept by the low strings, as the higher strings sway back and forth, handing off the phrases to each other and back again. A clarinet solo marks this piece, with a sweet melody finishing each phrase with trills. An all-strings interlude brings in a more somber side to the piece before it builds again into the original, sweet melody.

Even with all the times I've been impressed with the London Philharmonic, nothing prepared me for what they do here! The recording is so clear that, and hopefully this won't sound too ignorant, you can hear the tiny clicks of the clarinetist's fingers as they play the melody (this is especially true of the trills). The Tokyo Metropolitan's recording is typically a bit foggy because of the amount of reverb. Not even the clarinet solo really sticks out, and the string writing tends to blur together.

The NHK Symphony has much the same problem as the Tokyo Met does, although far worse. The clarinet nearly blends in with the string writing, as it is horribly muffled. Of course, though, the NHK handles the string parts with absolute care, nearly redeeming the initial skewing of the clarinet solo. Nearly, but still not...

Scores: Enjoyment - 8/10 / NHK - 7/10 / London Phil - 10/10 / Tokyo Met - 7/10

12) Bridal Waltz

We've arrived, at last, at the final piece of music on the album. Sugiyama Ending themes have a knack for inspiring the greatest emotion and usually having some great orchestrations as well. Well, only one of these is true of "Bridal Waltz". You will be feeling no draining emotions here. No, here is a delightful romp of a piece! The melody is so familiar sounding, yet you can never quite place it. Beginning with trumpet fanfares, winds and chimes bring the piece to its first statement of this melody with strings, while a triangle keeps the beat. When the melody repeats, the strings are more lush than before. A flourish for trumpets brings on the next section, an equally memorable and nostalgic melody for rich strings that leads seamlessly into the next section, dominated by winds. After a cadence, the piece logically leads back to the beginning, but with stronger string writing and some added brass counterpoint. When the melody repeats for the final time, the orchestrations have reached their peak, being lush and rich and leading the piece off to its jolly climax, preceding by pizzicato strings and glockenspiel, ending with an authentic cadence.

The beginning on the London Philharmonic recording isn't as strong as it could be, and the early reprisals of theme, where the orchestrations are still rather thin, fall short of expectations because, again, the clear sound quality reveals is not always superior. Also, in the third section, the winds aren't quite strong enough. The brass at the beginning of the Tokyo Metropolitan performance isn't much improved from the London Phil, although the resonance in the recording saves the piece from sounding shallow, as it does on the London Phil. The winds are much stronger in the final section, although the strings are quite as well defined as they should be, in any of the sections for that matter.

More artificial sounding brass begins the NHK recording, although at least the notes are well defined. The strings here correct the problem I had with the Tokyo Met's recording, although in a rather extreme sense. They drown everything else out. It seems that, for "Bridal Waltz", we have yet to receive our defining performance.

Scores: Enjoyment - 10/10 / NHK - 6/10 / London Phil - 7/10 / Tokyo Met - 7/10

Bonus Track - Sad Village ~ Mysterious Disappearance ~ Disturbed Village

The Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra continues its trend of trying to use poor-quality tracks to lure us into purchasing their new, superfluous recording. "Sad Village" is essentially a somber variation on the "Melody in an Ancient Town", but with less-than-stellar orchestrations, featuring a flute solo and undefined washes of strings. There is a mysterious section for strings and chimes in the middle that features some nice chord progressions for a few seconds, literally, reverting back to boring, uninspired orchestrations for a boring, uninspired piece. The end features somewhat of a variation on the "Saint" theme, with some at least decent orchestrations in that section (subliminal brass is added to the mix).

The performance by the Tokyo Metropolitan is equally undefined and particularly muddled sounding, but I suppose a crystal clear recording by the London Phil would have sounded simply awful as well... It's just a lost cause — I doubt any performance could make it sound good, so cheers to the Tokyo Met for at least trying.

Scores: Enjoyment - 3/10 / Tokyo Met - 5/10


The music of the Dragon Quest series is progressively getting better, although I might say that Dragon Quest V Symphonic Suite is actually tied with Dragon Quest IV's. The music features some more of Sugiyama's experimental side, coming up with some very nice pieces as well as a few lackluster ones. There are a few tracks of great emotional power, and then there are pieces like "Make Me Feel Sad" that make me more angry than anything by the way they try to counterfeit real emotion and passion. Sugiyama has found a perfect balance of orchestrations in some of his pieces, although some end up either sounding too confused while others sound too simplistic.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra is the gold-standard for this suite, followed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, whose resonant performance sometimes obscures Sugiyama's thin and shallow orchestrations, resulting in a more full sound for some pieces. The NHK Symphony Orchestra continues its streak of disappointing with the majority of the tracks on this album, with all the instruments being horribly mixed. The brass is too soft and artificial sounding, the winds are too stuffy sounding, and the strings are sharp as a knife, until they take on an all-strings track like "Noble Requiem", where they are just as muddled as the rest of the sections of the NHK. The skill of the London Phil is astounding and certainly very difficult to match. Just wait, though, because the Tokyo Metropolitan is about to surprise us all...

There were only three album releases of the Dragon Quest V Symphonic Suite in contrast to the endless album releases for Dragon Quest III or, worse, Dragon Quest IV. There are few bonuses to distinguish the three releases. The first print by the NHK Symphony Orchestra features a forty minute original version, but it's all in one huge original sound story. It's a nightmare to navigate and an abrupt listen too. If you want to hear an original version, try an SPC set instead. The London Philharmonic Orchestra takes the no additional frills approach. As for the Tokyo Metropolitan print, it has that extra abominable track, which is hardly enough to set it apart from the definitive print.

Overall: Enjoyment - 9/10 / NHK - 6/10 / London Phil - 10/10 / Tokyo Met - 7/10