Ys V Orchestra Version continues Falcom's tradition of excellent arranged soundtracks. Like Symphony Ys '95, one of the classic game soundtracks, it boasts Ys melodies arranged by Tamiya Terashima and performed with high-quality sampled orchestral instruments.
With this CD and others, Terashima makes a strong case for being the best arranger of game music around, taking rather contemporary-style melodies often intended as pop or power-rock and making them sound as if they were born for orchestra.
The arrangements are brought to life by a sound system of sampled orchestral instruments. The quality is right on target with Symphony Ys '95, which is to say quite good. Rarely do I find myself wishing that a particular instrument sounded better. A true live orchestral performance would still be even grander (sometimes the sampled sounds seems to mesh together a bit, lacking some distinction and clarity), but the present sound system does a fine job of carrying the music.
Noticeable in Ys V Orchestra Version is the use of repetition to build drama. Terashima sometimes takes one of two brief melodies and creates a full-length arrangement which remains captivating throughout. "Field of Gale" begins with a simple two-note sequence, from which emerges an exhilarating, soaring arrangement that does the Ys name full justice. Through similar repetition, the ominous tune in "Turning Death Spiral" becomes even more imposing. It doesn't take too many listens for these previously unfamiliar melodies to become permanently and welcomely engraved in one's mind.
As usual in Ys CDs, there is a nice mix of slower arrangements and more intense fare. Terashima is wonderfully adept at sustaining mild arrangements for long enough to make them enjoyable, then breaking out fast-pace, adrenaline-pumped climaxes at just the right time. Also, a few tracks have an ethnic sound for added variety. "Forgotten City" could easily be mistaken for a port-town theme from Genso Suikoden.
A fan of orchestral soundtracks would be hard-pressed not to enjoy Ys V Orchestra Version. I don't think it has quite the dramatic punch of Symphony Ys '95, but a listen to the track "Farewell" (in which the introduction and finale are absolutely blazing) makes the difference negligible. Fans of Ys will find this disc to be a welcome addition to their collections, and for those people unfamiliar with the series, this is a great place to start for its orchestral side.