This is a special collection of Dragon Quest music arranged for brass and performed by “Cincinnati Brass and Percussion.” The music was arranged by Sam Pilafian, who teaches at Arizona State University and was a founding member of the Empire Brass Quintet. Koichi Sugiyama has done a great job composing and arranging for various symphony orchestras. But here, we see an American take the spotlight for a Japanese soundtrack.
The collection is essentially brass arrangements for Dragon Quest IV and V. Dragon Quest III gets a couple tracks, and Dragon Quest I appears for the Overture and the Chateau (castle) theme. Dragon Quest II, sadly, does not have any representation on the album.
One of my favorite parts of the arrangement is the Dragon Quest IV character themes, which run as a suite from tracks 5 to 11 (opening and ending with the “Intermezzo” music). The character themes in DQIV are excellent, and they sound great with this brass and percussion group performing it as well.
The Dragon Quest V arrangements are decent as well. They chose to arrange/perform songs that would best suit a brass group, with “Noble Requiem,” “Heaven,” and “Bridal Waltz” being obvious decisions. As a result, it’s no surprise that the end product is fantastic.
Having been printed over a decade ago by the TELARC record label, it should come as no surprise that this album is an extremely rare find. It would be nice if Telarc, the record label that publishes for such acts as Empire Brass and Turtle Island Quartet, would reprint this album. But that’s extremely unlikely. So, get hunting on eBay, I suppose…