Performed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Brass Quintet (a subsection of the larget Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra that has recorded the most recent batch of DQ albums), "Brass Quintet Dragon Quest" contains a variety of songs from Dragon Quests I through VIII. The key to this album's greatness? Extremely difficult arrangements performed with stellar execution by the quintet.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a brass quintet is made up of five brass performers (duh): two trumpets, a French horn, a trombone, and a tuba. Some variations can be made to this setup, but this recording uses the traditional five for every track. The instruments found allow for complete coverage of the low/high (octave) spectrum, and it also allows for melodic/harmonic structure, including contrapuntal melodic lines from the two trumpet players.
The precision of the performance continually blows my mind. By now, I am quite familiar with every one of the 17 tracks on this album from a variety of sources. Never before have I heard such a clean and impressive recording as this. The Tokyo Metropolitan Brass Quintet is simply phenomenal, that's all I can say.
As for the arrangements, they sought to maximize the potential of the performers by putting into place a number of difficult passages, some of which seem more suited to a wind or string instrument, but must instead by emulated by the brass. It is very impressive.
Now, even with all this talk of how impressive it is, the fact of the matter is that if you aren't accustomed to listening to brass-only classical music, you may not be able to fully appreciate the music. But try to become adjusted to it, and you'll quickly find yourself loving it. I, for one, was shocked by how much I enjoyed this album.
This is a fantastic arrangement with an even more fantastic performance. I can't praise it anymore than I just did. This is grade-A material. If you like your classical VGM (which means you must like Dragon Quest), then it's time to get this album.
Reviewed by: Patrick Gann