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Passion – “Sakura” (Yuki Kajiura)

June 25, 2010

Passion (2007) is a wonderful album from Eminence Orchestra featuring the work of Yasunori Mitsuda, Hitoshi Sakamoto, and Yuki Kajiura. The soundtrack is a recording of a concert held in a select number of cities such as Singapore, Baltimore, and Sydney, so is fairly difficult to find. It contains music from games, anime, and standalone albums, all using a six-piece orchestra conducted by violinist Hiroaki Yura (Grim Grimoire). This piece, “Sakura” is from Xenosaga II: Jenseits von Gut und Bose (2005). It is one of my favorite tracks.

Passion – “Sakura” (Yuki Kajiura)

This piano and violin piece has a fleeting beauty – though intensely emotional, after only a short time, it is gone. This makes it an excellent selection for an album of this name, but also gains greater meaning when given its context. “Sakura” is the theme of Sakura Mizrahi, a girl who contracted a disease which left her unable to “respond to external stimuli” – yet learned the piano. Her theme song is thus very fitting for reflecting her musical skills as well as a fleeting beauty and innocence that is soon lost, like a falling cherry blossom.

The in-game theme has four versions, and this YouTube video contains three of them. The first is a piano arrange, while the second contains Italian lyrics (no translation). Version #4 was the version arranged for Passion.

In Xenosaga II, Yuki Kajiura composed the cutscenes and Shinji Hosoe did the in-game music – the latter of which was never released on CD. As a result, the composition of the game is quite odd because the two never collaborated and Hosoe was forced to remove orchestral sound from his tracks. Additionally, the composer changed from the first two games in the series (Yasunori Mitsuda), which was an odd decision. I enjoy Kajiura’s music, though it is difficult to compare with that of Mitsuda, who had worked with the series since Xenogears.

Hiroaki Yura is the lead of Eminence Symphony Orchestra, a special group that performs game soundtracks (Soul Caliber IV) as well as many concerts for beautifully arranged vgm. I am amazed at how young he looks yet the power he is able to produce through his music. Some of my other favorites from this album are “Pain” and “Ferris Wheel” – and I don’t feel the user ratings on VGMdb do the album justice. Did I mention the album art is beautiful as well? It’s a shame the album is so hard to find – and expensive!

Yuki Kajiura is better known for her wonderful anime soundtracks (Noir, Blood: The Last Vampire), but she has also composed music for the .Hack series, among other games.

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