Misleading and overblown, but enjoyable symphonic, er.. synth-phonic album overall.
Reader review by Jon Turner
Contrary to the title, "The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask - Orchestrations" is not performed by an orchestra at all! Instead, it sounds like a bunch of guys performing on high-quality synthesizers that nearly sound like an orchestra (think Symphony Ys '95). I was pretty disappointed on this level; I was expecting it to be symphonic, not synth-phonic!
That said, Orchestrations is still worth getting. It contains arrangements of 18 songs from the game (some of which are condensed together onto one track), all faithful to the originals. They all sound full and much richer than the quality of the system on the original game soundtrack.
Don't be fooled by the fact that there are only 11 tracks. Four of them contain more than one song from The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask. "Opening" begins with the eerie, quiet strings found in the "Opening Demo", then it segues into the very lively (and Scottish) "Clock Town" music, before concluding with the last part of the "Title Demo", which contains the sinister, Arabian-style theme of Majora. "Commanding Vow" contains both the slow theme of the Giants and the Ocarina song of the same title, mixed together in a very majestic, mysterious tocatta (there's an excellent organ solo, even though there are no choral vocals on that track as well). "Fighting Enemies" contain three of the game's boss battle themes ("Boss Battle", "Mujula's Mask Battle" and "Mujula's Magic Emperor Battle") and is bookended by the very fast, intense (and obnoxious) "Mujula's Mask Moon". "Ceremony" starts with the triumphant fanfare that accompanies the Moon's demise, then plays a very lovely, slow song (which I didn't remember hearing from the soundtrack album... composed for this track, perhaps?), before it plays the triumphant, primitive celebration music along with hints of the classic Zelda Overworld theme. All of these compilation tracks transition the various melodies into each other so well, and are cleverly arranged.
The remainder of the album has a number of tracks that are really fun to listen to. "Termina Field" (yes, the revamped version of the Zelda Overworld theme) is a delight, with a very lovely (and well done) piano solo about two-thirds through the track. The carnival-like "Music Box Shrine" has hints of the "Waltz of The Flowers" from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, from the ascending scales and descending broken chords of the harp, to the catchy three-note waltz-beat that only the strings can perform with grace.
The last track may strike some listeners as being out-of-place on an "orchestral" album. But then, the music of Majora's Mask is similarly offbeat. This bonus track, entitled "Daru Blue", is an extended version of the jazzy, irresistibly bouncy and groovy swing song that the Zora Band plays. The only time this song had an extension (it was only about 45 seconds long on the original album) was briefly on the Ending music track. However, this arrangement is a real treat, especially for fans of the original.
It's too bad that this soundtrack is hampered by one serious flaw, aside from the misleading title. Even though the songs are well-arranged, they seem a little overblown. In other words, many of the tracks are performed with too much bombast. I don't usually have a problem with such performances (I'm actually quite rather fond of this kind of music), but this seems inappropriate, especially since a lot of the songs on here were never intended to be played with such powerful force. For example, the "Zora Hall" track, although mostly pretty, sneaks in a grand interlude that is completely jarring for a quiet, beautiful track. Sadly, this is the case with many of the tracks on the album. It works best for some of the more exciting tracks, particularly "Fighting Enemies", but it suffers on the tracks that were never intended to be executed this way.
This album is from Japanese publisher EnterBrain (at http://www.EnterBrain.co.jp/). Their CDs are shipped only to customers in Japan, and are rarely sold in any retailer stores. On top of that, they are very limited in quantity. Those of you who desperately want this CD may have to do quite a bit of hunting in order to pick it up.
However, The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask - Orchestrations is overall worth such a hunt. Even though the title is misleading, and the bombast performances overemphasized, the excellent arrangements of the songs on this album more than make up for it.