Orchestral Game Concert 4 is wonderful. It has selections from various Nintendo and Super Nintendo games - arranged and performed by an orchestra. Some of these games did not make it to America so their music may not be familiar.
Let's cover the familiar stuff first. What single piece of video game music is more well-known than the stage one theme of Super Mario Brothers? Personally I didn't think I'd care to hear this ancient game's 8-bit tunes rendered by an orchestra, that is until I heard it for the first time. It's hard to describe the feeling of first hearing the orchestra move through the imminently familiar melodies from SMB, although if I had to try I'd say it's a mix of surprise, amusement, and extremely fond reminiscence.
Now on to the next super-familiar track, the opera performance from Final Fantasy VI. The entire opera, with all the instrumental movements and all the vocals. Of course here the vocals are sung by true opera performers, and they're well done since they can move someone like me for whom opera is not a big attraction. The instrumentals are really spectacular though. The arrangement does not vary much from the original version but that's 100 percent fine with me. Again, there's no describing the feeling when you hear all twenty-three minutes of Final Fantasy glory performed marvelously with real instruments.
The SMB and FF tracks alone warrant purchase of this CD, but there's much more. The Wild Trax piece is just as lively as the Mario Brothers theme. A couple tracks combine varying themes with a cultural flair to create truly powerful, cinematic experiences. Most notable is the track from Albert Odessey II, which flawlessly combines adventure themes, Middle Eastern accents, and the blazing orchestral performance to create one of my favorite pieces of game music yet. The medley of themes from Uncharted Waters II is nicely varied and beautiful to the point of being emotionally moving; personally I prefer this orchestral arrangement to the renditions in the UWII Special Edition CD.
I feel obliged to admit that there are a few small flaws. A couple of the tracks could be considered slightly lackluster, and there are a few botched notes by the musicians here and there. It's hardly enough to hurt the soundtrack as a whole, though it may be enough to give pause to paying the high premium the now rare album demands when buying it secondhand. Still for any game music fan - and especially those who experienced the 16-bit era - Orchestral Game Concert 4 offers no shortage of classic orchestral game music to enjoy.