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Symphony Ys '95 :: Review by Chris

Symphony Ys '95 Album Title: Symphony Ys '95
Record Label: King Records
Catalog No.: KICA-1160
Release Date: May 24, 1995
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Though arranged in similar formats, Symphony Ys '95 and its predecessor Symphony Ys are actually quite different. The original Symphony Ys convincingly presents the melodies of Ys I & II in conservative orchestrations interpreted by a symphony orchestra. Symphony Ys '95, on the other hand, features the considerably less conventional orchestration of Tamiya Terashima presented by a high quality synthetic orchestra. What's more, it focuses entirely on Ys' music and presents it as a retelling of the game's story in five chapters.


The opening arrangement of "Feena" and "First Step Towards Wars" is even more expansive than the material of Symphony Ys, at least in terms of track length. While it'll be difficult for many Ys fans to still get excited about "Feena", this particularly interpretation is quite special, since it offers different shades of colour and gradations of emotion that haven't been expressed before. In some regards, the synthesized approach is a good thing since it adds a certainly ambient and earthly quality to the arrangement that would have been difficult to express with conventional orchestration. However, I couldn't help but regret that live instrumentalists couldn't be involved to present solos such as at 1:53 or 6:40. Even with the better-than-average synthesizer quality, these solos lose some life without the nuances and character of a human behind them.

Thankfully, this album is more about the artistic collective experience than the original melodies. Listeners will be greeted with faithful interpretations of all their Ys favourites, but what's really interesting is how they're presented. It's amazing how, for instance, Tamiya Terashima offers a slow evolution from the atmospheric "Palace" to the action-packed "Palace of Destruction" in the second chapter. This ensures an arrangement full of subtleties and contrasts, yet also with an overriding sense of direction, and it also ties extremely well with the game since the same transition happens more abruptly in the dungeon. The treatment of "Beat of the Terror" and "Holders of Power" is also fascinating. Much of the first half of the arrangement is ghostly and ambient, yet still sumptuously harmonised, while the latter half introduces an exotic element to the score with the oriental woodwinds and earthy percussion appropriate in the context of the game.

While the symphony took some time to build up, the climax in the fourth movement is surprisingly swift. After a heroic interpretation of "Tower of the Shadow of Death", the suite soon turns dark and gothic with "The Last Moment of the Dark" and "Final Battle". It'll aspire listeners to reimagine their journey in the game, yet to a much richer accompaniment. The fifth chapter concludes the album on a content note. Though not one of the more impressive suites, a highlight is the ornate interpretation of "Church" against harpsichord continuo. The movement also brings the experience round full circle with a recapitulation of "Feena", leaving listeners feeling nostalgic yet fulfilled.


Symphony Ys '95 is an incredible symphonic retelling of Ys. Once again, Tamiya Terashima offers very colourful and sumptuous orchestrations throughout this album, while still staying fiathful to the original melodies. Each movement offers something different to the experience and they come together to tell a dramatic story as a whole. The only major limitation of this album, especially compared to its predecessor, is the lack of live performances but the synthetic implementation is still very good. Overall, this is a highly recommended purchase.

Overall Score: 9/10