I’m not all too familiar with Dragon Slayer’s soundtrack, and even though I have both the Perfect Collections and JDK Special, I still haven’t listened to them as closely as I’d have liked. Then, what exactly made me so interested in Dragon Slayer Symphonic Poem? The name of the album had always intrigued me (Symphonic Poem indeed sounds romantic), but perhaps it was when I learned that Tamiya Terashima (Ys Symphony ’95, Ys V Orchestra Version, Legend of Heroes IV Electric Orchestra) arranged the music that I knew I absolutely had to have it.
Dragon Slayer is what Falcom is all about. The melodies are catchy, the battle and field themes exciting, and the opening and ending themes peaceful yet triumphant. Imagine all of that incorporated into a grandiose orchestral arrangement and you’ve got Dragon Slayer Symphonic Poem. The music isn’t as dramatically arranged as the Ys symphonies, but the pieces are quite intriguing in themselves.
As with most of Falcom’s symphonies, the tracks are divided into chapters in which the original pieces are arranged into movements that together more or less musically tell the story. I’ve always enjoyed this setup, and with excellent compositions to work with the result is never short of fantastic.
Although the instrument samples are not as advanced or as realistic sounding as in Terashima’s later arrangements, he is still able to accomplish wonders with these pieces. Terashima is a master at reworking different melodies to complement each other without dramatically altering the original composition. “Chapter 3: The Prince’s Departure” is a prime example of this; Dragon Slayer’s “Field’s” melody is weaved throughout the other compositions giving the entire Chapter creating a coherent sound while conveying the chapter’s story through the music. In “Chapter 3” we hear the determination of the journey to meet the enemy, an intense battle, uncertain relief after having destroyed him, then surprise and a quick regrouping to continue fighting the undead enemy, and finally the victorious march onward.
The final track, the “Encore,” is a rather interesting piece. Arranged as if it were actually an encore at a real concert, we have an audience applauding and clapping along with the music, which is played as if it were following a conductor’s lead. I’m pretty sure this was not performed live (not even live on synthesizers), but it gives you the feel that it’s part of a concert event and is a nice touch.
All in all, Dragon Slayer Symphonic Poem is a wonderful arrangement of wonderful melodies that any fan of symphonic music will enjoy. And for those of you who appreciate the arranging talents of Tamiya Terashima, I urge you to seek the out this jewel. It can often be found on Yahoo Japan selling for as little as 2000 yen (about $16 USD). You’ll need a Japanese contact to purchase it, but it’s not a bad deal at all.