Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's Final Symphony was a marketing triumph, selling out its first performance and occasioning a Saturday night re-run.

Friday's foyer bore signs of astute franchising. A young man tinkled away on his digital keyboard with what sounded like a fifth pressing of Richard Clayderman, while hardcore Final Fantasy fans enjoyed photo ops with their PlayStation heroes.

The audience was there for the symphonic gentrification of Nobuo Uematsu's music for the Final Fantasy computer games.

I suspect that expectations were amply fulfilled. Two men nearby, fired by every rousing march, punched out metronomic beats on all five fingers; behind me, another warned his companions that the upcoming piano concerto may well make him "weep like a little girl."


Alas, those uninitiated in the digital escapades of characters like Terra Branford, Sephiroth and Aerith could only take these inflated soundtracks at straight musical value.

And, despite the zeal of conductor Eckehard Stier and a splendidly energetic APO, this was thin stuff, cherry-picking its way through the classics - troll music courtesy of Grieg, trombone blasts from Valhalla and more than one dissonant trudge sounding like Khachaturian's Sabre Dance in slow, slow motion.

Pleasure was had, to be sure, healthy box office is always laudable but let's hope that some punters might test out the APO playing Bartok's Miraculous Mandarin on Thursday.

What: Final Symphony

Where: Aotea Centre