The Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra performed a series of string-less arrangements for the Dragon Quest series. Their first album covered Dragon Quest I, II, and III. Released in 1988 and reprinted in 2003, this album is rather special.
First thing that’s special? The nomenclature. The overture (track 1) is called “When the Braves Go Marching In.” A play on “When the Saints Go Marching In,” indeed. I wonder what inspired Sugiyama (or someone else) to give it this English title? It’s not even remotely what the Japanese title of the song translates to. There are other tracks that, on this list, do not match with how songs would later be named in various reissues of the Symphonic Suite albums.
The other thing that’s special? The lack of strings forces other instruments to compensate. On this particular arrangement, I found a lot of compensation done on the part of the pitched percussion (orchestra bells, xylophone, etc), when I would have expected woodwinds (flutes and clarinets) to do the brunt of the work. The “brass” of In Brass arrangements don’t change too much, at least not up front. But I believe the lower-pitched instruments have a little more work to do with the absence of the cello and string bass.
All of the arrangements on this album are good, but it always leaves me begging the question: why would you have this album in place of, or in addition to, the excellent Symphonic Suite albums? It’s a tough question, and it seems the only answer is “if you’re a hardcore collector, you want this album as well.” Most people could, and should, do without it.