Symphony Ys

"Ys fans will appreciate these highly-charged symphonic arrangements." Cautiously Recommended

Reviews

Ys fans will appreciate these highly-charged symphonic arrangements.

Cautiously Recommended

Editor's review by Adam Corn

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.

A must-own for orchestral fans. Period.

Reader review by TerraEpon

I'll say this right off: Symphony Ys is the first Falcom CD I bought. I also will say that I had never been too impressed with what I'd heard of Falcom music... until I heard sample from this CD and a couple other orchestral ones.

I love orchestral music. It's almost all I listened to in high school. My musical palette has greatly expanded in these past three years (mostly as a result of game music), but I still love listening to great orchestral music. And if there's one thing this CD is, it's great orchestral music.

As with most "symphonies", there are four "movements", equivalent to four tracks on the CD. They are built around various themes from Ys 1 and 2. Movement 1 is probably my favorite track. Right from the start, movement 1 pulls you in with a grand opening, complete with one of the highlights of the ensemble of the CD - Latin percussion. This is the tune Feena. As tension builds, the tempo gets faster, and kicks into my favorite Falcom tune, First Step Towards Wars. Then with excellent development (absolutely not boring at all), it slows back down, plays a slow version of Palace, and eventually cycles back through Feena and First Step.

Movement 2 is fast and furious at first; the orchestration of Palace of Destruction is very reminiscent of late Romantic composers such as Tchaikovsky and Dvorak, and (I hate to use the term too much, but) is pure aural bliss. It slows down going through many moods, and ends in a very nice stately march.

The third movement isn't quite as up to par as the other three, but it's still very good. It's a very peaceful pastoral-esque piece that makes me think of a Mozart serenade. It also uses a smaller ensemble, which works perfectly for its softer, laid-back nature.

The final movement is really something. It starts off with a wonderful fanfare, and erupts into a frenzy of strings playing To Make End of Battle, later joined by the rest of the group. After a short slow section, it goes into a very John Williams-esque dramatic fanfare (it almost sounds ripped right out of Superman), eventually returns to To Make End, and ends with the Superman-ish fanfare.

I really can't say how good this CD is, except that it's the type of CD you can listen to twice in a row and still want to keep listening. This one is a must have for any orchestral game music fan and should not be passed up, weather or not you like Falcom.

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