|Nodame Cantabile ~Paris Chapter~
|Nov 12, 2008
|1. Sky High
Review: I think there’s a fairly strong consensus from the anime community that “Sky High” by The Gospellers is solid, but people feel that it doesn’t quite match up to the opening to the first season of Nodame Cantabile (“Allegro Cantabile” by Suemitsu and the Suemith). While “Allegro Cantabile” does serve as an excellent representation of the first season by bringing out the expressiveness and joy that the characters have with music, I think that it doesn’t quite measure up to “Sky High” in terms of refinement because if we extend this interpretation of what the song represents, then the lack of refinement is fitting since it portrays characters who were still developing their musical skills and their emotional maturity. “Sky High,” on the other hand, feels much more polished while still retaining a playful feel (one that the OP sequence enhances). Of course, I could be reading a bit too much into it and it doesn’t help that my opinion of this OP is tainted by the fact that I’m a Rachmaninoff fanboy through and through. But even after controlling for that factor, I still have to say that “Sky High” is an excellent song befitting Nodame Cantabile ~Paris Chapter~ and the listening experience is only enhanced for those who are familiar with Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2.”
“Sky High” starts out with a pleasant a capella segment that makes for a soothing introduction before the lyrical theme from the third movement of Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” makes its entrance. The original theme has a beautiful sense of melancholy with a dash of hope, which makes for a wonderful addition to the rest of the tense third movement which builds up that feeling through the quickening melody before the tension is finally released and the movement ends with a reprise of the lyrical theme. “Sky High” takes this theme and provides an interesting twist to it by giving it a more upbeat, joyful air with the feel of a Broadway show set during the Jazz Age. For the most part, The Gospellers stay true to the source material aside from a brief interlude around 2:08 that complements the main theme by remaining fairly cheerful until the main theme makes a return at the 2:39 mark. The vocalists themselves put together a good performance since their voices were really pleasing to listen to, especially when each voice sang in unison on a different register during the chorus to create a really warm, soothing effect. Though there were some issues in the way the vocalists handled some of the higher notes, overall, “Sky High” is a wonderful song where you won’t be reluctant to surrender yourself and be taken along for the ride since the piece just flows really smoothly from start to finish with its sense of optimism and joy.
“Septenova” continues with the joyous jazz revue-like atmosphere after a campy, declaratory introduction makes way for a happy, festive melody. In fact, this whole song exudes a celebratory sense because of how cheerful the singers are. Like “Sky High,” the vocalists are able to convey that enthusiastic mood well and when they sing together during the chorus part, the effect is heightened further, making it a pleasant tone to listen to before the first verse closes out with the soothing backup vocals and the song transitions smoothly over to the second. The only difference between the second verse and the first is the transition at the end into an interlude that starts softly before slowly building itself back up to the joyful intensity of the chorus section. If there’s one thing to like about “Septenova,” it’s the way the song packs a nice amount of energy without being overbearing, thereby putting the listener in a good mood. Be warned though. The song does end a bit abruptly and if you’re like me, you just might feel as though it leaves you hanging even though a careful listen reveals that it does end on a consonant chord. It’s just not that apparent if you’re going through the song quickly.
Aside from the conclusiveness of “Septenova” and the way some of the singers handled the extreme registers, Sky High proved to be a very well-executed single. Its arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2” to suit Nodame Cantabile’s atmosphere was absolutely stellar and “Septenova” is a competent track in its own right. The only pitfalls I can see is if you’re not a big fan of Rachmaninoff’s music or the joyful Broadway revue style isn’t to your liking. Otherwise, give this album a shot since there’s just a lot of good music to be had here.
Rating: Very Good
Opening – Sky High