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Adam Corn Mar 25, 2009 (edited Mar 28, 2009)

After carefully browsing VGMdb I'm still a little confused by the array of Dragon Quest symphonic albums out there, and I'd like you the lovely forum members' help in getting it sorted. smile

I want to focus on complete albums performed by a full orchestra (none of the string or brass ensembles for now).  I'll list the performances (no reprints) by game in chronological as I know them, and if there are any omissions please fill them in!

The album titles for each performance are all "Dragon Quest ** Symphonic Suite" or some variation of that unless otherwise specified.

Dragon Quest I
1994 London Philharmonic
2007 Tokyo Metropolitan

Dragon Quest II
1994 London Philharmonic
2005 Tokyo Metropolitan

Dragon Quest III
1988 NHK
1996 London Philharmonic
2005 Tokyo Metropolitan

Dragon Quest IV
1990 NHK
1991 London Philharmonic
2000 London Philharmonic (new performance)
2002 Kanagawa Philharmonic (Dragon Quest IV Concert Live in 2002)
2005 Tokyo Metropolitan

Dragon Quest V
1992 NHK
2000 London Philharmonic
2004 Tokyo Metropolitan

Dragon Quest VI
1995 London Philharmonic
2006 Tokyo Metropolitan

Dragon Quest VII
2000 London Philharmonic
2006 Tokyo Metropolitan

Dragon Quest VIII
2005 Tokyo Metropolitan

Best Collections (new performances)
1988 NHK Family Classics (Dragon Quest Live Concert - Family Classic Concert 2)
1994 Tokyo Symphony (Dragon Quest Symphonic Suite - Live Best)
1996 Kanagawa Philharmonic (Dragon Quest Legend)

The VGMdb entry for the 2000 DQIV Symphonic Suite (SVWC-7064) implies that this was a different performance by the London Philharmonic than their 1991 one.  Is this the case? (Edit: Yes, it is!)

avatar! Mar 25, 2009

I heard that the DQ VIII Symphonic recording is not so good. Do people concur, or disagree?

Chris Mar 25, 2009 (edited Mar 25, 2009)

The Dragon Quest series a huge and confusing discography with some games receiving five or six suites. However, I put this together a couple of years ago with the purpose of helping people like you: … aphy.shtml The various albums released per game are listed in chronological order and each suite page also contains a list reprints and rerecordings. I didn't always bother with the official titles since they can be very confusing although it is possible to cross-reference using the catalog numbers where not clear.

Basically, there are a maximum of three recordings for each suite: one by the Tokyo Strings Ensemble (DQI, DQII) or NHK Symphony Orchestra (DQIII, DQIV, DQV), one by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (DQI - DQVII), and one by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (DQI - DQVIII). Technically DQIV's live album by the Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra is regarded as fifth of six prints for the suite as well. Some recordings by the same orchestra (NHK and London) have been released twice or three times. The recordings usually differ by the inclusion or omission of an original score. However, some of the London recordings were also remastered.

There is a lot of debate about which to go for. Juan2Darien did extensive track-by-track reviews of each suite, but his opinions differ for each suite even if he feels the London Phil is the best overall. The Tokyo Met releases are now the only complete line of recordings. DQVIII SS was only recorded with them (preceding a line of subsequent recordings) and the DQIX SS was also recorded with them and, based on concerts, should be released around the time of the game. In addition, they reflect how Sugiyama has refined his actual scores over the year and often contain bonus tracks. However, observant people might notice some deficiencies in the performance qualities. For this reason, a lot of people try to buy both the London Phil and Tokyo Met prints, even sometimes earlier suites as well.

Concerning the 2000 DQIV print, I'm not entirely sure whether this is a new recording. It wouldn't surprise me given the nine year gap, but I was told by two otherwise reliable sources that it was just a remastered version. Does anyone own both to compare? If you have any more questions, I'm happy to help.

Adam Corn Mar 25, 2009

That second paragraph summed things up pretty nicely, Chris.  The part that's really bugging me is whether or not there are two different recordings by the London Philharmonic for Dragon Quest IV.

So far the only suite for which I've heard all three recordings is Dragon Quest III.  The London Philharmonic performance is the best overall IMO, but the NHK performance has several strengths that make it a very worthy alternative.  For DQIII at least the Tokyo Metropolitan recording is a distant third.

I'm avoiding most reviews until I get my own reviews for the series done (it's gonna take ages neutral) but I'd be interested in hearing opinions of how the Dragon Quest Legend ballet recording compares to the others.  After getting a full symphonic suite for most of the DQ games now, I'm finding that the Tokyo Symphony versions on Dragon Quest Live Best are some of my favorites!

Ramza Mar 26, 2009

So you're not counting the first two "Suite" (not "Symphonic Suite") albums? I concede that DQII's first "Suite" is as much jazz as it is orchestra, but you may want to consider adding them anyway.

And, to confirm, I'm almost positive the 2000 print of DQIV Symphonic is not an original recording; it's the 1991 London recording, up-sampled.

Pedrith Mar 26, 2009

Actually I really enjoyed the symphonic recording for Dragon Quest VIII.  I like them all to varying degrees, with Dragon Quest III as my top favourite (mostly due to it being my favourite game in the series).  I can hardly wait for Dragon Quest IX Symphonic album to be released.


TerraEpon Mar 26, 2009 (edited Mar 26, 2009)

Randomly, Comrades from DQIV (one of my favorite tracks in the series) just came on my huge random playlist which I already had this thread open...

I wish the whole thing wasn't so damn confusing...

Chris Mar 27, 2009

Ramza wrote:

So you're not counting the first two "Suite" (not "Symphonic Suite") albums? I concede that DQII's first "Suite" is as much jazz as it is orchestra, but you may want to consider adding them anyway.

Gosh, the Dragon Quest II Suite was really quite something. I tolerated Sugiyama's light rock and jazz efforts on titles like Jesus, but I don't think it worked for Dragon Quest. I guess that's why he promptly wrote a new suite. wink

And, to confirm, I'm almost positive the 2000 print of DQIV Symphonic is not an original recording; it's the 1991 London recording, up-sampled.

*breathes a sigh of relief*

Adam Corn Mar 27, 2009

Ramza wrote:

So you're not counting the first two "Suite" (not "Symphonic Suite") albums?

Well I was under the impression that the two Suite performances had no string section, so I figured if I include them I'd need to include the In Brass albums too.  But if they are similar in sound to the Symphonic Suites I have no problem adding them.

Pedrith wrote:

I like them all to varying degrees, with Dragon Quest III as my top favourite

"Fighting Spirit" and "Into the Legend" from DQIII are my absolute favorite themes from the whole series I'd say, along with "Comrades" from DQIV (nice one, TerraEpon wink) and "Unknown World" from DQI.  Taken as a whole, I thought Dragon Quest III Symphonic Suite was a bit slow at first, but I'm finding the NHK Symphony version seems to remedy that.

Chris Mar 27, 2009

The Dragon Quest Suite was the original recording of the Symphonic Suite and is similarly scored to the London Philharmonic recording. The accredited performers are the Tokyo Strings Ensemble, though horns, trumpets, and percussion were also included.

The Dragon Quest II Suite was a horrible anomaly with a jazz-oriented sound. It was mostly rewritten for the London Philharmonic version of the Symphonic Suite. Again the Tokyo Strings Ensemble plus extras (including abused saxophones if I remember correctly) performed it.

Adam Corn Mar 28, 2009

I got my hands on the 2000 London Philharmonic edition of Dragon Quest IV Symphonic Suite and can confirm that it is a different performance from the original London Philharmonic release.  The recording date is listed as 1996 for a few tracks and 2000 for the rest, and the copyright dates match.  I've edited the list above accordingly.  (I'm pretty sure I'd read all that information before somewhere but can't remember which site.)

I had the instrumentation for the original Suite album for DQI and DQII mixed up but since there are no woodwinds I'm still opting not to include them.

FuryofFrog Mar 28, 2009

Just curious, is there any particular reason that Sugiyama is using Tokyo Met instead of the London Philharmonic to do the new tracks? I know DQ8 was done exclusively with them and 9 is sure to be with just them as well. Its a bit disheartening because I know my London Phil will never be complete as they are not used anymore. I've been following Juan2Darien's exquisite reviews on the Symphonic Suites and seeing how in almost every Suite barring 6 the soundtrack is scored significantly higher. Thats not to say personal preferance doesn't take a role in it but I compared the tracks side by side and followed them just to get a full grasp on what J2D was talking about.

So, anyone know?

TerraEpon Jul 29, 2010

So playing DQIX has gotten me thinking about this thread. Anyone have anything to add to the above? Does the box set with I-VII have anything exclusive?
One thing I'm curious about is (aside from those silly early !symphonic efforts) if the actual arrangements/orchestrations are the same across the various recordings. Not to mention any tracks simply not existing on some (I'm pretty sure the earliest DQIII one at least is missing a track or two that was added to the SFam game and thus not recorded with an orchestra until then either)

jb Jul 29, 2010

Unless you consider the bottlecaps exclusive I don't believe there are any exclusive tracks on the symphonic box.

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