Joe Hisaishi & New Japan Philharmonic World Dream Orchestra’s Symphonic Suite “Princess Mononoke” 2021
The Symphonic Suite revives after a quarter of a century

Joe Hisaishi, New Japan Philharmonic World Dream Orchestra Symphonic Suite “Princess Mononoke” 2021 Universal(2022)

It was 8th of July 1998 that Joe Hisaichi conducted the Czech Philharmonic and recorded Symphonic Suite “Princess Mononoke” for the first time. A quarter of a century has passed since then. The symphonic suite is to be recorded again in a new shape.

The live recordings of concerts around Japan in 2021 were the material resource for the new album of Symphonic Suite, so the large sound field feels, or rich hall tones might catch your attention. 8 movements of its 1998 edition once in 2016, added music for “Kodamas – Spirits of the Forest” and was revised. This time, Hisaishi added music to give the climax in the story a colorful background, and on the other hand, tailored many repetitive parts down to have 7 movements.

Compared to the sublime 1998 edition, the 2021 edition is different in that the tempo is slightly faster, and dramatic accents are many. Also, the new edition employs a soprano in the 5th movement “Princess Mononoke” and the 7th movement “Ashitaka and San”, which distinguish itself from common styles of the orchestral works.

It can be said that reproducing his works for Studio Ghibli by Hisaishi himself into symphonic suite form, represents an authentic attitude of the composer that does not leave music composed for the films behind by adopting and completing them as concert pieces. But so far as his subject theme, Princess Mononoke, is concerned, Hisaishi is particular about it. When he struggled with composing for the film, he read everything written by Ryotaro Shiba and also related writings with him to approach the intention of Hayao Miyazaki behind the story. And that meant to think about “what is Japan”. That huge contemplation will never find its goal and continual revisions of the composition in the piece have the same meaning to find the composer himself in the endless loop of self-question and self-answer. Probably, putting the film score of Princess Mononoke into a symphonic suite never meets its final date. The audience should be honored with the thrill and luck to observe the composer wrestle with that process.

In this album, in addition to the waltz of theme music from Howl’s Moving Castle, the “Asian Works 2020, a suite of CFM, film score, and music for the Xpark Aquarium” is also included. Here, too, we could hear his strong will to retrieve his scores originally written for marketing purposes as “his pieces of work”. Too hot to touch, and it's too bright to stare at his pride.


1. The Legend of Ashitaka
2. Ta Ta Ri Gami
3. The Journey of the West ~ Kodamas
4. The Demon Power ~ The Forest of the Dear God
5. Mononoke Hime
6. The World of the Dead ~ Adagio of Life & Death
7. Ashitaka and San
8. Merry-Go-Round 2019 (Merry-Go-Round 2019)
9. I Will Be the wind (Asian Works 2020)
10. II Yinglian (Asian Works 2020)
11. III Xpark (Asian Works 2020)
12. World Dreams 2021 (World Dreams 2021)