This concert was almost 20 years ago but I have to say, I think it's the greatest thing I've seen and heard (even better than my favourite game music). I watched it several years ago but only recently got the DVD for it. Yngwie was a bit before my time so the first time I heard of him was from the Falcom game Ys IV via the final boss theme "The Great Ordeal". I'm sure some or most of you know about that story.
Although I do like metal, I wouldn't necessarily call myself a classical or orchestral music fan. But when those two are combined (i.e. neoclassical metal), it sounds like heaven to me. Even if you're an Yngwie fan, if you pick any Yngwie album, there will admittedly be a few filler tracks. But every time I boot up this DVD, I listen to it from beginning to end, no exceptions. As far as I'm concerned, there's not a single filler track of the 18.
I do have some minor complaints though:
1) This concert was performed and this DVD was released in 2001 and I think DVD was still in its infancy at this time (the PS2 was released in 2000). So I don't think the audio quality can be as great as it can be. Not much we can do about that except go back in time and give them 20xx era sound recording equipment etc.
2) As above, the video is obviously not modern day BluRay HD video quality so it is pixelated etc.
3) I think there's some post-production sound volume editing or something - Some songs sound louder than others.
4) Relating to the above, in general, is everything I'm hearing from the actual concert? Or were there any parts where they dub it with a different recording because for example, the playing was not an acceptable quality to release on DVD? Because if you watch "Evil Eye", right in the beginning, you can see Yngwie playing the guitar for a few seconds but no guitar can be heard. Was Yngwie just warming up with the guitar volume off? Or are we hearing something that wasn't heard in the concert?
Apart from that, I basically like everything about it. Here are my favourite moments:
1) Yngwie's opening shred in "Trilogy Suite Op.5". It's a great improvement of the original record version (not implying it is in any way not good). It sounds darker and has a Star Wars "Imperial March" feel to it. The drum instruments (don't know their names) in particular perfectly complements.
2) As far as the vocals are concerned, I particularly liked them in "Fugue".
3) The fast-paced open string riffs in "Toccata" (beginning about halfway through the song).
4) The tremelo-supported sustained note and Yngwie's guitar face to match in "Andante".
5) Near the end of the slow parts in "Adagio", there are two high vibrato notes.
6) All of the slow riffs in "Vivace". Who says Yngwie has no "feel"!?.
7) Playing the strings with his teeth in "Far Beyond The Sun". Nothing new for him obviously, but to do it at a formal and sophisticated orchestral concert!? Although I still like the original record version better, this is a suitably epic way to finish. Best Far Beyond The Sun is this one though.
8) He is dressed in 1800s era or something fashion. Awesome.
In the bonus interview, Yngwie describes this concert as his "crowning achievement", "the peak" and "the top" of his entire career. I'm inclined to agree.
PS. In that same interview, he says "100%" he will return to Japan to do another orchestral concert... :sad face:
A short summary of this DVD (from the liner notes):
Since his debut in 1983, Yngwie Malmsteen has publicly expressed his desire to some day write a classical musical score and to perform along with an orchestra. In 1998, the album "Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E flat minor Op.1 -Millennium-" was released.
In regards to live performances between classical artists and rock artists, in the past there was Deep Purple, and more recently, Scorpions and Metallica, and others. Although arranged for classical, these were basically the artists' own songs performed live but with the orchestral component added. Not to say that this is a bad thing. What they sought was the fusion of rock and classical. For example, Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra Live Concert which was released on DVD in June, 2000. But Yngwie's goal was not "rock + classical" but simply "classical music" itself.
On the 17th of June, 2001, in the Bunkamura Orchard Hall of Shibuya, Tokyo, the "Concerto Live in Japan With New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra" concert was held, and the VHS and DVD released accordingly. The conductor is Taizou Takemoto who has led the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as well as being deeply involved in the world of pop. The orchestra is Japan's prestige: The New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. The choir is the Ritsuyukai Choir. The orchestra consists of 69 members, the choir has 60, and when including Yngwie, a total of 130 people, and with 10 cameras recording.
The opening act is the "Black Star Overture", first appearing in Yngwie's solo album "Rising Force" released in 1984. With no guitar, bass, or drums, it is a purely classical orchestra affair. The original version has an acoustic guitar intro which is replaced with a harp.
Yngwie then appears to perform the fast tempo "Trilogy Suite Op.5, The First Movement" and then "Brothers", the song dedicated to his brother, and perhaps the most emotional piece of the set list.
With that, the rock numbers ends, and we enter deeper in the classical realm with "Icarus Dream Fanfare", "Cavallino Rampante", and "Fugue".
Next, two acoustic guitar based songs awaits: "Prelude to April" leading into "Toccata".
The electric guitar appears once again with "Andante" - the phrase which also can be heard in "Demon Driver" in the 1990 album "Eclipse".
"Sarabande" takes a more relaxed approach in comparison to the faster paced songs.
Next comes some fast fretting with "Allegro", the sad-feeling "Adagio", some beautiful melodies from "Vivace", and particularly effective choirs in "Presto Vivace".
Finally, we end with... "Finale", which invokes melodies from "Liar" from the album "Trilogy".
It's not the end yet. There are three encore songs: "Blitzkrieg", "Far Beyond The Sun", and "Evil Eye".