For an orchestral game music fan such as myself, Orchestral Game Concert 4 was an event. So expectations were high when I later ordered the next installment in the series.
I never would have thought that the Nintendo tracks would be some of my favorites in these CDs, but indeed they are. Leading things off in Orchestral Game Concert 5 - and the biggest surprise of the CD for me - is the "Kirby's Super Deluxe" arrangement. Beginning with a quiet, tender intro, the piece then moves into standard upbeat Nintendo fare. The melodies seem rather simplistic but are undoubtedly catchy, and the orchestral performance supplements them perfectly. Every instrument comes in at just the right time and place to make dramatic impact, so that a simple melody about a cute little critter named Kirby becomes almost epic.
Another similarity with OGC4 is that this CD has selections from games I and many others have never in our lives heard of. "Hercules' Glory IV", "Bounty Sword", "Iihatoovo Story"... where in the world did these games come from? OGC4 managed to overcome this with some arrangements that were awe-inspiring, whether familiar or not. Orchestral Game Concert 5, although partially successful, isn't as much so. Rather than striving for great emotional heights, some of these tracks seem like more reserved, roaming-the-castle, hiking-to-the-next-town, talking-to-the-villagers stuff. There are exceptions though, such as the ominous beginning to "Renasu II" and the entire "Iihatoovo Story" piece - a tender, stirring arrangement with fluttering flutes, soothing strings, poignantly lonely French horn, and a melody that'll have Final Fantasy IV fans doing double-takes at first.
One final similarity to OGC5 worth mention is the grand finale of arrangements from games by Square. I've never heard a bit of Seiken Densetsu 3, but this arrangement of "Meridian Child" has me wishing otherwise. After an intro straight out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, we have vintage Square adventure and drama combined with a bit more John Williams and a blazing orchestral performance. Too bad it ends so soon. Finally comes the main theme of Chrono Trigger (with Marle's theme also worked in). It doesn't come even close to matching OGC4's jaw-dropping arrangement of the FFVI opera, but those who dig Chrono Trigger's intro music will surely love this performance.
Although Orchestral Game Concert 5 doesn't boast quite as popular a selection of classic themes as its predecessor, it nonetheless offers plenty of good orchestral tunes and a few truly great ones to boot. It's an excellent collection that anyone looking for dynamic orchestral music should enjoy immensely.