On January 21, Studio Ghibli will release "Studio Ghibli Isao Takahata Soundtrack Box," a spectacular 10-disc collection of movie soundtracks from the inconic director's career, mastered in HQCD format, but fully compatible with CD players. The release was originally planned for a late 2014 release (around the same time as the similar Hayao Miyazaki & Joe Hisaishi Soundtrack Box), but delayed held it back until now.
The 10-CD collection is largely based on Takahata's Studio Ghibli movies, but a number of key pre-Ghibli works are also included. Here is the following rundown of the collection:
Disc 1: Grave of the Fireflies
Disc 2: Omohide Poro Poro
Disc 3: Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pom Poko
Disc 4 & 5: My Neighbors the Yamadas
Disc 6: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Disc 7: The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun
Disc 8: Panda Kopanda (+ The Rainy Day Circus)
Disc 9: Jarinko Chie
Disc 10: Joe Hisaishi conducts The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
The Soundtrack box will also include a booklet, catalog, and individual cardboard sleeves for each of the films. The tenth "bonus" disc is a live recording of Joe Hisaishi and his orchestra, as part of his continuing series of live performances (as documented on the DVD/Blu-Ray, "Joe Hisaishi Live at Budokan").
Music is an especially crucial element to Isao Takahata's films. He has always carried a deep knowledge and passion for world music, and his film scores are often as iconic as the animations. Consider the haunting Grave of the Fireflies theme, or the similar flute melody for The Story of Yanagawa Canals, or the European folk music in Omohide Poro Poro, or the bouncy jazz-pop of Yamadas. I have a special fondness for Jarinko Chie's music, especially the opening and closing songs. And, of course, we can't forget Horus' iconic, imperial march, and Hilda's Joan Baez-meets-Black Sabbath folk songs.
One inclusion that I would really like to see: Michiyo Mamiya's complete recording of Beethoven's 6th Symphony ("Pastorale") for the 1982 film, Gauche the Cellist. It remains one of my favorite renditions of the Pastorale; it has a special spark, perhaps a bit more passion and punch, than anything in my record collection. A full soundtrack LP has to exist somewhere...I can only hope.
I would also like to have seen soundtrack discs for Takahata's three World Masterpiece Theater productions: Heidi, Girl of the Alps; 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother; and Anne of Green Gables. Perhaps copyrights issues (translation: money and ego) prevented their inclusion, or perhaps television soundtracks, by their nature, are less ideal for longer, orchestral listening sessions.
You can purchase the Isao Takahata Soundtrack Box at CDJapan, for 15,000 Yen, or $127.25 USD. Definitely an expensive item, no doubt about it. But this price is comparable to similar CD box sets; Amazon has The Beatles in Mono set for $154.35 for CD, and 318.82 for Vinyl LP.
Much thanks to Buta Connection for their help with the cover photo and details. I'll update the cover photo as soon as one becomes available.