Symphony Ys represents Falcom's first symphonic rendition of the music from its Ys series. This CD holds many differences to the famous Symphony Ys '95, which was released several years later. Probably the first difference that becomes noticeable is the quality of the sound, as the performance here is by a small instrumental set. In ways I actually prefer the sampled mock-orchestral approach of Symphony Ys '95, but the instrumental set in Symphony Ys certainly does the job, and it is a nice change of pace from Falcom's later effort.
The arrangements as well are quite a bit different from those in Symphony Ys '95. The latter's arrangements usually start off rather slow and gradually build up to powerful climaxes. In this soundtrack the arrangements are more "in your face". They generally follow the original game music more closely, with more blatant repetitions and transitions than in '95. This is not necessarily a bad thing; I have no problem hearing arrangements true to the original music but in more realistic orchestral form.
It's amazing how much the symphonic-style performance can add to familiar Ys pieces. "First Step Towards Wars" is a blast to listen to in its original upbeat form but with blazing brass instruments. "To Make the End of Battle" takes on a whole new mystical feel with its fluttering wind sounds. Plus there are some catchy additions in the arrangements that, even when minor, add much to the experience. An oft-used segue in "Chapter 4" sounds remarkably similarity to the main theme of a popular comic book-based movie series (think of a big "S").
Overall, the arrangements in this soundtrack don't contain quite the drama to be found in some other orchestral collections (Ys series included), and the live performance even leaves a little to be desired, but nonetheless these pieces offer plenty of excitement. Fans of Ys and fun-seeking symphony freaks should be pleased.