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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 6, 2002
June 2014 Major Update!

This is my CLASSICAL TOMITA GUIDE with REVIEWS and QUALITY COMPARISONS, but first I have some Exciting News for you! TOMITA has released Six New (Super Audio) SACDs in Discrete 4 Channel Sound - the very definition of QUADRAPHONIC!! (so much better than the Surround Sound you hear while watching DVDs or TV.) The three Classical re-releases are CLAIR DE LUNE (SNOWFLAKES ARE DANCING), PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION, and THE PLANETS!! These are almost like totally new albums. Mr. TOMITA himself did new sounds, music, and multi-track mixes for most of the original tracks on CLAIR DE LUNE and PLANETS. He even created some totally new tracks! All the SACDs are Hybrids (playable on any player) and the DSD (Direct-Stream Digital) tracks are very clean, with pure bright highs and deep powerful bass.

* * * * * * * * *


In TOMITA's music I have found serene beauty, relaxation, landscapes of wonder, mysterious spaces, thrilling excitement, fascinating dimensions, inspiration, and some fun. The music he creates is more natural, mellow, and rich, with more depth, color, imagery, feeling, and thought than any other synthesized music I have ever heard. He makes classical music come alive, with never before seen, heard, or felt images and sounds.

As a person who began collecting TOMITA and other electronic music when I was 19 in 1979, plus the original symphony orchestra versions of the classical music that TOMITA used, I hope you consider me qualified to create the following list of TOMITA albums and review them as well. Thank you all so much for the votes.


SCROLL DOWN for IMPORTANT COMPARISONS based on SOUND QUALITY to help you decide which Releases to Buy. And More About QUADRAPHONIC ...

* * *

(11 Debussy pieces)
I love the range of styles in this album, the relaxing beauty, the depth of colors. The Snowflakes album is very enjoyable; one of the few CDs that I listen to again and again. To me, SNOWFLAKES is in TOMITA's top three.

The newly remastered High Performance Super CD from 2000 is 24/96 Audiophile Quality on any player, and adds "Prelude To The Afternoon of a Faun," also by Debussy.

CLAIR DE LUNE - ULTIMATE EDITION 2012 (SACD 4.0 Surround Hybrid)
Finally! A New TOMITA CD!! And it is superb. The original SNOWFLAKES ARE DANCING album had 10 tracks. This has 13. It adds the never before released "Second Arabesque" (which is delightful fun as it should be), "Whistle and Chime (The Art of Sound Creation)", and "Nauges." This QUADRAPHONIC SACD is a completely new experience. Several of the original tracks feature new and different mixes by Mr. TOMITA with new sounds and new intros. I was hoping for a more serious, magical "Nauges," but this is a great new album!

* * *

For this album (also in the top 3) TOMITA created some of the most unusual, high quality electronic sounds ever heard. Then he used these sounds very effectively in some amazing orchestrations. The listening is as enjoyable as it is bizarre, quite an accomplishment in itself. (Unlike other synthesized music, I have never gotten a headache listening to this or any other TOMITA recording. Not even close. Not even when playing his music loud, which I love to do.)

(Moussorgsky: PICTURES. Rimsky-Korsakov: SCHEHERAZADE- excerpt of Part I. Bach-TOMITA: Sea Named Solaris- excerpt).

Finally!! For the first CD ever, one of the most amazing QUADRAPHONIC albums ever in True 4-Channel Sound!!! Didn't detect any obvious new sounds or re-mixes like the new CLAIR DE LUNE and PLANETS SACDs. But the Discrete Quadraphonic Sound is Magnificent!!

And SCHEHERAZADE is just beautiful!! Mr. Tomita, Please release the entire SCHEHERAZADE album on SACD soon. Then THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE.
Thank You very much!

* * *

FIREBIRD 1976 (various)
(Stravinsky: FIREBIRD SUITE. Debussy: "Prelude To The Afternoon of A Faun." Mussorgsky: "Night On Bare Mountain.")

FIREBIRD is one of TOMITA's best albums. "The Round of the Princesses" is beautiful. The "Infernal Dance of King Kastchei" is exciting, scary, and LOUD - much more so than any performance by any orchestra. The "Finale" is so awesome; TOMITA played it at the end of his live concerts.

* * *

THE PLANETS 1976 (Holst)
THE PLANETS is a completely different mood for TOMITA, but he did a fantastic job on it. Each time I hear any part of THE PLANETS performed by Symphony Orchestra, it sounds very two-dimensional and just falls flat compared to TOMITA's. It is as if Holst composed THE PLANETS for TOMITA, even though the Holst family would not allow this album to be released in England. They didn't like that Uranus and Neptune were abridged, but their blending and the poignant ending are pure genius, even more so in the new SACD...

THE PLANETS - ULTIMATE EDITION 2011 (SACD 4.0 Surround Hybrid)
This New QUADRAPHONIC PLANETS album on SACD has a nice long new Introduction with Control Room, Spaceship Interior, Pre-Launch Communications, and beginning of Mars that knocked my socks off! There's even a brand new track called "Itokawa and Hayabusa" about the exploration of the Asteroid Belt between "Jupiter" and "Saturn." The whole new PLANETS album is just astounding. The 4-Channel Sound is phenomenal. I couldn't have been more surprised, amazed, and delighted.

* * *

KOSMOS or COSMOS 1978 (various)
("Star Wars" Title. SPACE FANTASY - R. Strauss: "Thus Spake Zarathustra," Wagner: "Ride of The Valkyries" and "Tannhauser Overture." Honnegar: "Pacific 231." Ives: "Unanswered Question." Rodrigo: "Aranjuez." Grieg: "Solveig's Song." Dinicu-Heifetz: "Hora Staccato." Bach-TOMITA: THE SEA NAMED SOLARIS.)

A Science Fiction album without a theme, and quite a mix of experiences...

In this album: "Star Wars" is cute. The SPACE FANTASY exhilarating. "Pacific 231" exciting and fun, a quality piece. You can see and feel the mechanical motions of the locomotive flying through space after the train speeds up, leaves the tracks and goes to another dimension... TOMITA's interpretation of the mystery and solitude of "The Unanswered Question" is far better than any orchestral performance. "Hora Staccato" is lots of fun. And Carl Sagan respected the amazing "Sea Named Solaris" so much, that he used it in his COSMOS. All TOMITA fans and collectors should enjoy most of this CD.

* * *

(Sibelius: "Valse Triste." Williams: "Close Encounters." Prokofiev: "Romeo and Juliet," "Scythian Suite," "Symphonies 5 and 6," "Violin Concerto 1.")

After nearly 30 years of listening to THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE off and on, I have decided that it is my all time favorite record album, CD, concept album, and my all time favorite synthesized music.

Inexplicably, the U.S. Dolby Surround CD releases stopped with KOSMOS. THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE is much better than KOSMOS. I could type pages on THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE, and you can find many pages on various websites. But I will just say that the orchestrations and performances of the music itself all fit together masterfully to tell a story that is part thrilling Science Fiction and part Impressionistic Dream. I especially like the second half - the exceptional, exciting Prokofiev music. The sounds TOMITA created for this album are his most sophisticated and fascinating yet, as innovative and high quality as PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION or more. The quality of the recording is bright, full, deep, clear, and clean. The whole experience is extraordinary. I am so grateful the album is on CD.

Another reviewer is absolutely right... "Turn off the lights, put the phone on silent, turn the volume way up, and sit down and listen!" Really listen!! Because THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE is an Experience: A Phenomenal, Powerful, Enlightening, Enjoyable Experience!!

* * *

(Ravel: DAPHNIS AND CHLOE, "Pavane for A Dead Princess," "Bolero," MOTHER GOOSE SUITE.)

This is a very good album with the best performance of THE MOTHER GOOSE SUITE that I have heard, by far. I love the range of musical styles in it. You can actually hear the fairies in the "Fairy Garden" (they sound like hummingbirds). Plus, the DAPHNIS AND CHLOE is better than some orchestral performances. And the "Pavane" is very nice.

* * *

(Bonus track: "Syncopated Clock" by Leroy Anderson is not on the Japan Import CD.)

The average music critic might say that this performance of THE GRAND CANYON Suite is not as good as a symphony orchestra's. But it is worth checking out, as parts of it are far more colorful, magical, and entertaining than any symphony orchestra version I have ever heard. TOMITA's "Painted Desert" gives a feeling of flying low over vast mysterious, enchanted, moonlit sands. "On The Trail" is a lot of fun, although some orchestra performances may be a bit better. And the "Thunderstorm" is exhilarating and even a little frightening, especially when turned up Loud. You can actually Hear the Lightning, Feel the Thunder, and then See a Rainbow at the end. Only TOMITA could do that!! This is the shortest TOMITA album. It would easily fit on a CD with CANON OF THE THREE STARS.

* * *

(Pachelbel: "Canon." Rachmaninoff: "Vocalise." Albinoni: "Adagio." Bach: "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring." Three movements from Villa Lobos: BACHIANAS BRASILEIRAS Suites 2, 4, and 7.)

Sweet is the word I would use to describe pretty much this whole album. Some tracks are even cute, although at least one is solemn and another poignant. The quality of this album is not nearly as great as his early albums... It almost seems that TOMITA did this one in his sleep, but some tracks are very good, and since all the tracks are individual pieces, it is very worth owning as a reference CD.

* * *

(Live concert with huge speakers on both sides of the Danube River. Includes 7 pieces from previous albums- some with new arrangements and Live Soloists. Plus 5 Totally New Pieces... Stravinsky: "Dance of the Young Girls" from THE RITE OF SPRING. Japanese Traditional: "Cranes In Their Nest." Vaughn Williams: "The Lark Ascending." Wagner: TRISTAN UND ISOLDE - "Liebestod." Beethoven: ODE TO JOY with full Choir and soloists.)

In my opinion, this is in TOMITA's top five best albums. It contains some of the most beautiful and unique performances ever put on a disk. The live violin solo (Mariko Senju) of "The Lark Ascending" at least equals the best performance I ever heard. The same violinist does an outstanding job on Prokofiev's VIOLIN CONCERTO NO. 1." This is the part of THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE near the end that gets so exciting, and with the live violinist and TOMITA's magical orchestral creations, it is truly one of the most thrilling musical experiences I have ever enjoyed.

I also love the Wagner: TRISTAN UND ISOLDE - "Liebestod" (which first appeared on this album). So much depth and feeling, it is hard to describe how lovely it is. This album also has an extended version of "Cranes In Their Nest" (probably because it is on the Voyager Interstellar Record) a very good performance by Goro Yamaguchi on the Shakuhachi (a Japanese end-blown flute made of bamboo).

Of the two concert CDs, this one has more awe-inspiring moments, and more depth. It is also the longest TOMITA album ever made, which is nice, since it is so enjoyable.

Note On LIVE AT LINZ Recording Quality
I think that since MIND OF THE UNIVERSE was a live concert with speakers on both sides of the Danube River, a helicopter carrying a speaker above for a UFO effect, and a huge choir on a boat ... there is no way the sound quality could have been perfect. TOMITA's mixing choices could be better but even though I am pretty particular about sound quality, I do enjoy listening to this CD very much. And when I play my old 1985 CD, Loud on my car stereo system with good amp and subwoofer, it sounds great to me. The most important parts are clean. There is reverb at times, but it is natural, bouncing off things in the area. I have always given this one album more slack, because the oddities that occur make me Feel as if I am at the Live Concert, and for me this is a plus.

* * *

(Live concert with live soloists. Includes 7 pieces from previous albums- some with new arrangements and live soloists. Plus Dukas: "Fanfare." Mahler: SYMPHONY 3 IN D MINOR - "5th Movement." Traditional: "Chinese War Lord Going Home." Gershwin: "Rhapsody In Blue." Fisher-Dvorak: "Goin' Home.")

LIVE IN NY is almost as good as the LIVE AT LINZ concert (above). Parts of it are great. And the music is less demanding than LIVE AT LINZ, which makes it more suited for playing in the background.

These last two CDs are my all time favorite live concert albums.

* * *

BACH FANTASY 1996 (J.S. Bach)
10 separate Bach pieces, which include only two tracks from previous albums, and part of "The Sea Named Solaris" is mixed different.

Too bad this is hard to find and was not included in the big Box Set, but you CAN find it used on Amazon Japan, and the G..... Chrome Browser will translate the pages automatically, then with a little perseverance, you can figure out how to order from a seller who says they ship internationally. Once I figured it out, it was easy, not expensive and in perfect condition.

This CD features some new sounds, moods, and musical styles for TOMITA Classical - a really wide variety of them. Several of the tracks are most enjoyable. The popular "Toccata and Fugue" is a very good, virtuoso straight performance on very cool sounding Synth Organ (which I normally would not appreciate, but TOMITA gets away with it splendidly). My subwoofer liked it too!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Listening with Beyerdynamic DT990 Studio Headphones plugged into my Mac Pro, I played tracks from each pair of CDs using QuickTime Player 7 opened in two windows, and a keyboard command to switch back and forth (many times) for the comparison. I compared the SACDs and Surround CDs on my Surround System.

* * *

The SACDs sound best, of course. But next best are mostly the JVC K2 CDs made in 2006 for the Box Set and in 2007 to sell separately. The JVC K2 CDs are brighter, warmer, louder, more powerful, and have more Stereo Separation and a little less distortion than most of the 1991 Dolby Surround CDs, or the 1986 and 1991 Japan Import CDs. This is their story...

"The source material was first converted to digital via JVC's patented K2 24-bit analog-to-digital converter, which uses advanced dither algorithms (without noise shaping). The musical information is next encoded on a magneto-optical disk for transport to JVC's Yokohama manufacturing plant. The musical signal on the disk is down-converted to 16-bit through a K2 "super-coding" process before going through a proprietary "Extended Pit Cut" DVD K2 laser technology to produce a glass master. This optimizes the linear velocity of the glass master, giving precise pit lengths to eliminate time jitters, controlled by an extremely precise Rubidium Clock. All CDs are finally stamped directly from this glass master." Also, these CDs are noticeably THICKER than the average music CD.

* * *

The SACDs say DSD 4.0 on the cover, but they show DSD 5.1 when playing, and they DO use the Subwoofer, but NOT the Front Center Speaker. That's perfect, actually.

* * *

Finally, True Quadraphonic for the first time ever for some of us! Extraordinary 4-Channel Sound on my surround system. Ultra clean, pure and bright with deep bass.

[2000 High Performance Audiophile 24bit / 96KHz Super CD] YES!
Unlike the 2006 JVC K2 CDs, this ONE TOMITA CD is actually burned at 24bit / 96KHz for truly superior sound on ANY CD Player. It is very bright and clean. Smooth highs, deep bass, no distortion. Very nice.

CLAIR DE LUNE - ULTIMATE EDITION 2012 [SACD Hybrid - Regular CD tracks]
The standard CD tracks (playable on any player) sound very close to the same quality as the 24/96 Audiophile CD above. Just a little tape hiss in some places.

[2006 CD from Box Set, 1986, 1991, or 2007 CD] NO
More tape hiss than Audiophile CD. Less bright. A little distortion.
I kept the Super CD and "downgraded" to 16/44 for my iPod.

* * *


[SACD Hybrid - DSD 4.0 Surround] YES!
Finally! For the first time for some of us, PICTURES in True Quadraphonic Sound. And it is spectacular!! In fact, after waiting decades to hear this album in 4-Channel Sound, the "Ballet of The Chicks in Their Shells" and "The Great Gate at Kiev" are so stunning that I cried when I heard them in Quadraphonic for the first time. And of course, the DSD tracks are very clean, pure and bright with deep bass.

[2006 CD in Box Set & 2007 CD] YES
Brighter, warmer, louder, more powerful, with more Stereo Separation and a little less distortion than previous releases.

[SACD Hybrid - Regular CD tracks] NO
I don't know what happened here, but listening with my headphones, the 2006 & 2007 JVC K2 CDs have a lot more depth and warmth, and sound a lot better than the regular tracks on the SACD.

[1991 Dolby Surround CD] NO!
Wider stereo separation sometimes, but some sounds just fade to nothing when trying to move to the rear channel no matter what you play this CD on. This is the only Dolby Surround CD this happens on and it's really bad.

* * *

[1991 Dolby Surround CD Dolby 5.1] YES
There is no extreme Discrete 4-Channel separation on this one, but the Surround Sound is actually pretty good, and all 5.1 Channels are used.

[2006 CD in Box Set & 2007 CD] YES
Brighter, warmer, louder, more powerful, with more Stereo Separation and a little less distortion than previous releases.

* * *


Finally! True Quadraphonic for the first time ever for some of us! Extraordinary Discrete 4-Channel separation on my surround system. Ultra clean, pure and bright with deep bass. The cleanest of the SACDs!

THE PLANETS - ULTIMATE EDITION 2011 [SACD Hybrid - Regular CD tracks] YES
This CD is the brightest and cleanest of all the regular CD tracks of THE PLANETS.

[2006 CD in Box Set & 2007 CD] YES
Brighter, warmer, louder, more powerful, with more Stereo Separation and a little less distortion than previous releases.

* * *


[1991 Dolby Surround CD] YES
There is no extreme Discrete 4-Channel separation on this one, but the Surround Sound is actually pretty good, and all 5.1 Channels are used. This One TOMITA CD sounded best after manually choosing Dolby Pro Logic II. And it is brighter and cleaner with more full range than the CD in Box Set.

[2006 CD in Box Set and 2007 JVC K2 CD] NO
More tape hiss and a little sharp with too much midrange.

* * *


[2006 CD in Box Set & 2007 CD] YES
Brighter, warmer, louder, more powerful, with more Stereo Separation and a little less distortion than previous releases.

* * *


[2006 CD in Box Set & 2007 CD] YES
Brighter, warmer, louder, more powerful, with more Stereo Separation and a little less distortion than previous releases.

* * *


[2006 CD in Box Set & 2007 CD] YES
Brighter, warmer, louder, more powerful, with more Stereo Separation and a little less distortion than previous releases.

* * *


[2006 CD in Box Set & 2007 CD] YES
Brighter, warmer, louder, more powerful, with more Stereo Separation and a little less distortion than previous releases.

* * *


This is the only TOMITA CD that got THREE completely different releases a long time ago...

[1985 U.S. CD Made In Japan (70:31) Black front and back.]
Starts with "Also Sprach Zarathustra." Has "Saturn" and "Mars." Very clean and bright, as if mastered from original master tapes. Sound quality almost exactly the same as 1991 Japan Import. Make sure you get exactly this one with this number: RCD1-5461.

[1991 Japan CD. Gold front. Pink back.]
Starts with "Unanswered Question" and announcements in Austrian.
No "Mars" or "Saturn."
Very clean and bright, as if mastered from original master tapes.
Sound quality almost exactly the same as the 1985 U.S. release.

[2006 Japan CD. Gold front and back AND the CD in the Box Set (70:13)]
Starts with "Also Sprach Zarathustra." Has "Saturn and Mars." Dull music and Tape Hiss all the way through, as if mastered from a cassette. Note that with identical content, this 2006 Import and the CD in the Box Set is 18 seconds shorter than the 1985 U.S. release, supporting this theory.

* * *


[2006 CD in Box Set & 2007 CD] YES
Brighter, warmer, louder, more powerful, with more Stereo Separation and a little less distortion than previous releases.

* * *

BACH FANTASY 1996 (J.S. Bach)

There was only one Bach Fantasy release, and it sounds pretty fantastic.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I think I know why SACDs never became popular... For one thing, they can only be played on a DVD or blu-ray player (usually already connected to a Surround System in the living room where Quadraphonic music all around would be perfect) but most SACDs have barely audible reverb in the rear channels. Now that I have heard TOMITA's SACDs though, I want to try Quadraphonic SACDs and DVDs of Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, and old Lounge Music albums. But time and time again, I find that the true Quadraphonic discs are very expensive, while the price of most SACDs with only reverb in the rear channels is WAY down. What does THAT tell you?!!

If you're like me and never heard true Quadraphonic sound from a music album before these TOMITA SACDs... Now you have to! And you can do it on a budget! On Amazon do a search for "blu-ray player sacd" in electronics, and choose 4 Stars under Avg. Customer Review (on the left)... Then do the same kind of search for "receiver 5.1"... Then search for the best you found at the best prices in other places (Used in good condition, or maybe New In Box, No Longer Made) and sort by Price + Shipping: lowest first.

If there are no HDMI connections, that's completely OK. Just make sure that if the blu-ray player has an Optical Audio Ouput, that the Receiver has an Optical Audio Input. Or if the blu-ray Player has a Digital Audio Coax RCA Jack Output, make sure the Receiver has the same Input. Then just add a good pair of speakers at ear level behind you, and maybe get a Subwoofer too. Then set your Receiver or Surround Decoder to auto detect the surround encoding, or set it to DSD, and be amazed!

QUADRAPHONIC SOUND = Music or Nature Recordings that are mixed to place the sounds from the Orchestra, or Band, or environment in ALL 4 SPEAKERS pretty much EQUALLY, hopefully with Discrete 4-Channel Separation.

SURROUND SOUND = Movies and TV Shows that place sounds of audience applause, car chases, a distant voice, door creaks, or other OCCASIONAL sound effects in the rear channels, while most of the music and dialogue is in the front channels.

When Quadraphonic sound began, 4 large speakers were required and were usually placed in the 4 corners of the room with the listener in the center of the room. Surround (Rear) Speakers these days are typically smaller and closer to the listener, so it's best when SACDs and DVD-Audios use the Subwoofer, but that depends on how they were mixed and programmed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Other reviewers on Amazon have done a more eloquent job than I of describing TOMITA's amazing musical style, but I have enjoyed creating this guide. I hope you enjoyed it too.

I'm flattered that this was copied and pasted to so many websites, but I would like you to know that I Am the original author. Check the dates. I first posted this on Amazon in March 2002. Thank You so much.

There is no collection of music I enjoy more. Not even close.

Jeff Nielson, Oakdale, CA
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2000
Is Tomita a sound magician or the ultimate in retro moog cheese? I wouldn't worry too much about the answer as you listen to these electronic "realizations" of famous Debussy pieces. Just (as I do) indulge yourself in lots of great early Moog synthesizer sounds and fascinating arrangements (at times embarrassing, but only briefly). Tomita is much more of a colorist than his Moogmate Wendy Carlos, and his early work is more interesting than Wendy's, drawing on a much broader palette of sounds. One Tomita recording is probably enough, and this excellently remastered classic is The One. By all means don't get rid of your Debussy piano recordings, but make room in a hidden drawer for "Snowflakes Are Dancing."
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2005
If you happen to be a spaniard, you're born between 1975 and 1980 and you're reading this, you probably already know that 'Arabesque no 1' is the amazingly sad music that we heard everyday after the school as the opening title of 'Planeta imaginario'. So, yes, this is the song you do need to hear again and probably the one that made us all to love the sound of synthesizers. Now, for the rest of the album (and of course for the rest of the people), this was the first lp of japanese's synth virtuoso Idao Tomita, and also one the first -and finest- works ever recorded using only this kind of instruments. Many classic composers have been translate into synthesizer's language, including Bach or Beethoven by Walter Carlos or Holst and Mussorgsky by Tomita himself, but nothing fits so good with this hypnotic, colourful and nostalgic sound than the impressionist melodies of Claude Debussy. Anyway, if you're not accustomed to this kind of music it will probably take a few more listenings to be fond of the sounds: although electronic music seems to be everywhere nowadays, the fact is that nobody uses these spacey and old fashioned arrangements anymore. A shame, because they still sound great. Companies liked them when a modular synth was more expensive than a house and you couldn't compete with them at you're home. Now everyone can do this sounds at a low cost, so it won't be a good bussiness to promote this kind of recordings, as they'll have to fight with thousands of amateurs for their piece of market. Needless to say, very few of them will be able to display the genius of Tomita, not to talk about Debussy. By the way, I think there's been a terrible misunderstanding with some previous reviews. The High Performance release contains a great remaster -not a remix- of the original production by Tomita and, although finding the original vinyl shouldn't be very hard, I recommend this version. Of course the volume is very dynamic, so could wake up the neighbors if you try to enjoy it at night without your headphones. But this is not a disadvantage. In fact, it works quite good and makes the music more similar to the classical performances of Debussy, while it maintains every nuance of Tomita's awesome synth playing.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2007
During the seventies, the prog music of Yes, (early) Genesis, Renaissance, and especially Emerson, Lake & Palmer cast a hypnotic spell over legions of high school nurds such as myself. Much of what held it together was a fascination with the sounds eminating from the still somewhat new Moog Synthesizer. It wasn't long before my high school art room pals & myself began looking for anything Moog, and found quite a bit outside the rock music pantheon, most notably the 'Switched On Bach' recordings of Walter/Wendy Carlos. They were interesting, but nothing quite prepared us for the release of Tomita's 'Snowflakes Are Dancing'. Perhaps it was because the timing coincided with a 'high' point in our collective psyhedelic experimentations.... Debussy's music is already an alternative, ethereal experience in the classical world, and Tomita's choice of sounds & production techniques put this recording in a class by itself (umm... especially with a pair of good headphones). I am happy to report that, upon listening to this well produced CD release with nothing more than a cup of herbal tea, I was happily transported once again. It is one delightfully Bizarre recording. 'Highly' recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 1, 2007
Released in 1974, this all electronic adaptation of works by Claude Debussy is really quite good and showcases Isao Tomita and his flair for synthesizer wizardry. I think that Isao more or less captures the dreamy and haunting mood of Debussy's compositions and also adds a bit of his own (humorous) flair here and there with some "light-hearted" synth sounds.

The music on this album was recorded entirely with a moog synthesizer although the sweeping and majestic sound of a mellotron with string setting pokes through the mix on occasion. As a big synthesizer fan, I thought it was interesting that the various settings on the moog were listed as "equipment" including things like oscillators and lowpass filters etc. This particular synthesizer was pretty versatile and a virtually infinite number of sounds could be generated, as is amply demonstrated by Isao on this album.

In addition to the works originally included on Snowflakes are Dancing, the last track was taken from his Firebird album (1976) and is another work composed largely on the moog synthesizer although other keyboards were used including a Fender electric piano and a Hohner Clavinet C.

The sound of this high performance CD is excellent and trust me, the changes in dynamics virtually leap out at you.

All in all, this is an excellent recording of electronic music by an excellent electronic composer. Highly recommended along with his 1976 adaptation of The Planets (by Gustav Holst).
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2005
These are all Debussy tunes. Tomita mostly used the Moog on this recording, and occasionally a Mellotron for the choral and string effects (especially on The Engulfed Cathedral). The tune choices are mostly the standard Debussy classics, but include Golliwog's Cakewalk, which is really nerve-racking on synthesizer. And the added track, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, which is over 10 minutes long, can get a little boring. Really the last 17 minutes of the CD is a drag, but the first 30 minutes are some of the best synthesizer music ever (and this was recorded in 1974!).

Unfortunately, M. Wood was correct in that the remix here is really bad. The volume levels are too high in some places and too low in others. And I don't just mean a little. I mean they are WAY off. I also bought the LP in the 70's, and I know it didn't have this problem. They tried to make the highs and lows more dramatic, but ruined it. Tomita didn't endorse this re-issue, and I could see this being the reason. It's practically unbearable.

And I don't think you need a 3600 watt system like tobor642 to play this music! :D I have a high performance stereo system (which I don't think is appropriate to brag about here), but the stereo system is not the issue. The problem is that the volume level is way too soft in some places and way too loud in other places, and you would have that problem no matter what stereo system you use. For example, the problem is still there if you just listen through headphones.

My recommendation is to buy one of Tomita's other CDs, such as Planets or Kosmos, which are every bit as good, and hope that Sony remixes this CD.

For a great piano version of these classics, I highly recommend Debussy: Piano Works, performed by Pascal Roge. Or, for more general piano classics, you may enjoy The World's Favorite Piano Music, performed by Van Cliburn, which includes a great, but different Reverie.

For other synthesizer music, you may enjoy Kitaro's CDs, which mix modern synthesizer music with traditional Japanese music. Kitaro's music is more like New Age, but definitely more interesting than most New Age music. The new CDs, Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai 1 & 2, are both great.

And, for guitar synthesizer, you ought to try Allan Holdsworth's Sand or Atavachron. The level of playing is way above anything any other player has ever done on guitar synthesizer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2007
I have been trying to find out who did the theme tune for PBS Star Gazer which used to be Star Hustler. I have been watching Star Gazer for over 20 years. I finally got it on Pandora Radio. I ordered it as soon as I found out. This is top notch synth sounds. I would definitely buy more by Tomita. I love Debussy music anyway.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon April 11, 2011
Readers, I couldn't believe this when it fell on me. When Amazon blunders, they really go the full way, and don't hesitate to smear egg all over their face, hair and body.

I was surprised that my review didn't get posted. I inquired with Amazon as to why. This is their response. Prepare yourselves:

"Hello Discophage,

I'm sorry to hear you have repeatedly submitted your Customer Review and it has not been accepted. I read your recent review of "Debussy: Snowflakes Are Dancing, Prelude, etc / Tomita" and found it violated our guidelines. We don't allow profanity in Customer Reviews."

Profanity? Oh my God, what had I done? Had I been obscene commenting on Tomita and Debussy? Where? How? Why? Well, read on.

"Your review couldn't be posted on as written. I would recommend submitting your review again, restricting your comments to the item. Specifically, the following parts cannot be posted on

"Colliwoc's Gakewalg"

[I've exchanged here the Cs and the Gs so that my new post would get past Amazon's iron-wall censorship]

We understand this is a title of a track on "Debussy: Snowflakes Are Dancing." However we rely on automated filters to help identify content that may fall out of guidelines. A Customer Review containing this title will not be accepted by I apologize for the inconvenience this will cause.

We hope to see you again soon."

Sure you will. So, you've read it: mentioning the title of Debussy's sixth and concluding piece from Children's Corner is "profanity". In fact, I wasn't even aware of the racial implications that the word has assumed - years after Debussy had died. It is only as I researched what might have been viewed as profanity in a word that seemed inconspicuous to me (didn't even know if they took exception with that or with "cakewalk") that I happened on the Wikipedia entry that explained it (great and detailed entry, thanks again Wikipedia, wellspring of free knowledge available in two clicks). Well, I've certainly learned a new subtelty of the American language. So, in the name of a misplaced political correctedness, Debussy is now censored. How long must we wait before they decide to ban all sales of Children's Corner on this website?

I've protested back to Amazon. I indicated that that *Colliwoc* was a character invented by Florence Kate Upton in her 1895 Children Fiction "The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a *Colliwocc*" and that there was nothing profanatory about that. I also pointed out that not only the track listing of the present entry, but also no less than FOUR previous reviews had mentioned the Debussy piece with its full title, and that I was merely commenting on those reviews: so why did I get censored while they had full exposure? I've asked Amazon to reinstate my review. Well, they refused to budge. Anyway, I was so incensed as well as dumbfounded by the way Amazon and its asinine filters have made utter fools of themselves, that I didn't wait for their answer, but instead decided to go on with this new post and let everybody share.

Here was my review, profanity and all. It was titled

"Debussy + Space = Tomita"

and it went:

"I don't have much to add to the title, or to the 25 previous reviews.

Funny that many of the reviewers should so rave about Arabesque n° 1. What happens starting at 1:20 is downright comical: you think you are hearing Daffy Duck imitating Bing Crosby. And why does *Colliwoc's Gakewalg* seem to incense some other reviewers? it is only Daffy's return on a larger scale, and it is hilarious. There are many such touches in the Faun Prelude as well. Tomita obviously has a great sense of humor, and that is to his credit. I also find that he has a rich timbral imagination, his arrangements are always clever, imaginative and evocative, and he commendably avoids the saccharine. So much so in fact that, even when you know the Debussy originals very well, you almost forget Debussy entirely. Usually the enjoyment of transcriptions derives from the fact that they enable you to hear the old warhorses in a new and ear-catching timbral guise, adding new thrills to the old routine (like having your wife show up wearing a new sexy lingerie). But here the novelty, unexpectedness and eeriness of the new sonic attire in which Tomita clads Debussy almost make the works sound like original compositions. Surprising (and somewhat disappointing even, in view of how entertaining the rest is) that he didn't do more preludes, some of them, like Brouillards, being so atmospheric. Or the complete La Mer."

Profanity my foot. "Amazon + Robotic Filters = Asinine"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2006
Tomita was one of the early pioneers of electronic music. This CD, originally released in the 70's, was at the time a masterpiece. That was in the days of patch cords and laborious manual over dubbing, so not every cut is up to today's standars. Still, the finer pieces on this CD stand with anything ever done in the genre: luminous, melodic, and even entrancing. At its best, a magical CD highly recommended not only for the connoisseur, but for anyone who enjoys synthesized music.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2005
Tomita's 'Snowflakes Are Dancing' is a wonderful interpretation of Debussy's music, produced entirely on a synthesiser. When I first heard this, way back when L.P.s were still the norm, I was a not convinced that it would work. Being a huge fan of Debussy I didn't think the music would sound right played on anything other than a piano...goes to show how wrong you can be. Featuring some of the composers best loved pieces such as 'Girl With the Flaxen Hair', 'Golliwogs Cakewalk' and 'Arabesque' this is a fantastic addition to any collector of classical music.
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