RSNO & Eímear Noone: Video Games Music in Concert, Usher Hall, Edinburgh ****
In much the same way as film music has become part of mainstream concert programming, composers of video games are beginning to find an audience in the concert hall. The RSNO also records music for games, so a live performance of what most people only hear through their headsets is an attractive proposition.
This programme, selected by composer and conductor Eímear Noone, featured a range of arrangements from across the relatively short lifetime of the genre. Indeed, Noone joked that all the composers featured were still alive.
The well-known games franchises were well represented with Brian Tyler’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Koji Kondo’s Celtic Link Orchestral Fantasy (Themes from The Legend of Zelda) and the hugely popular Halo Trilogy by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori, with its quirky use of synthesizer. There was Jason Hayes’s World of Warcraft, too, as well as Noone’s impressive Celtic-infused contribution to the same game, Malach, Angel Messenger.
More mellow offerings included the haunting cello solo in Gustavo Santaolalla’s The Last of Us: All Gone (No Escape) and Robin Beanland’s evocative Sea of Thieves Suite. But it was the dramatic, fast-paced chase in Resident Evil V: Wesker Battle by Kota Suzuki and Wataru Hokoyama with its catchy bass line that really stood out from some of the more dated offerings such as Nintendo Suite 2023.
What distinguishes many of these scores is the epic and urgent nature of the orchestration – the bright horns, pounding drums, searing strings and an array of glittering percussion topped by a chorus of ethereal vocal effects. Indeed, the most satisfying pieces were those featuring the excellent RSNO Chorus and soprano Andrea Delaney, who hit some impressive top notes in Tetris Opera: Korobeiniki. This added a much-needed narrative to some of the less fully-formed works in this fast-growing genre.