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Yngwie Malmsteen

Yngwie Johann Malmsteen's Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E Flat Minor, LIVE with the New Japan Philharmonic DVD

Review by Lisa Palmeno

Yngwie Johann Malmsteen's Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E Flat Minor, LIVE with the New Japan Philharmonic introduces the master with a rock opera opening, sans the singers. High-tech-looking musical notes on a staff run vertically down the right side of the screen, while a rotating, revolving, circular staff with ancient-style notes and symbols sport the terms "tenor" and "Quintus." The visual images symbolize the divine union of antiquity and futurism in the universal language of music, a golden thread woven across times' hands by the master of metal himself.

Mediocrity is obsolete while watching the precision of the guitar and orchestral work of Malmsteen and the world's largest back-up band. The New Japan Philharmonic's phenomenal performance is truly awe-inspiring, and the largesse of the project sums up Herr Malmsteen's over-achiever ambitions. Malmsteen's Beethoven-style attire and long locks give him the air of a royal musician of another world, and while watching the DVD and hearing music of the highest quality, it's easy to forget the day's troubles.

The first song, "Black Star Overture," begins with a harp solo, followed by a wind instrument, and the band slowly works up to flute, strings, and then percussion. What ensues is some of the most beautiful music in the world. With more than 70 musicians, a full choir (Ritsuyukai Choir brings the rock opera back to its roots), a chorus master (Fumiaki Kuriyama), a conductor (Taizo Takemoto), and a concert master (Munsu Choi) Concerto Suite is impressive in sheer numbers alone. Composed in its entirety by Malmsteen, and self-produced, the piece is fascinatingly-loaded with extras, from the tuba and xylophone to the sweeping images created to complement the guitar work for a grand total of 18 songs.

The clarity of the music remains throughout the DVD, as a unified, consistent theme runs through each selection. The first six pieces, "Black Star Overture," "Trilogy Suite Op. 5," "Brothers," "Icarus Dream Fanfare," "Cavallino Rampante," and "Fugue" (also on Unleash the Fury) are all high-energy and expressive. "Prelude To April" follows in a dreamlike state of meditation, a beautiful melody carried out by acoustic-style finger work on the guitar. "Andante" falls right into the mood after "Prelude." "Allegro" is the most melodic of all the compositions, with light movements and phrasings. "Adagio" puts the adrenaline back into the show, with hefty dynamics and healthy crescendos.

"Finale" is upbeat and heavily accentuated by the choir, driving the evening of theatrical licks and riffs down the road home, followed by "Blitzkrieg" and "Far Beyond The Sun," which is the actual finale. Bonus features are an "Exclusive Interview with Yngwie," and an extra track, "Evil Eye." The interview is Yngwie answering a few of the interviewer's questions that pop up in text format on the screen, with different snapshots of Yngwie at the concert. A live, in person interview would have been preferable, but the comments are interesting and to-the-point.

The DVD is a must-see for classical and rock fans across the globe.

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