Skyward Sword marked The Legend of Zelda’s first foray into fully orchestrated music. The result was impressive, and the 25th Anniversary Special Orchestra CD will make you wish full orchestration had been implemented earlier. The eight tracks on the album make the most of classic Zelda themes, old and new, by translating them into symphonic works of art with panache and skill.
The eight-minute opening medley establishes the power of this album in its first few seconds. What follows is a sweeping compilation of Zelda themes that ushers in a celebration of the venerable and groundbreaking series. The fullness and boisterousness of the piece seems to highlight great Zelda moments without being overly brassy and abrasive. The follow-up is a much quieter piece, but no less enjoyable. The comforting melody of Kakariko Village has never sounded more like home. The third piece, “The Wind Waker Symphonic Movement” truly earns the title “movement.” A cheery, adventurous opening gives way to something grand, which in turn moves onto a rousing seafaring melody, and the music continues to turn over on itself, onto villainous booming and finally onto the classic theme, all while delivering Wind Waker’s unique feel.
The fourth track takes a great theme and renders it spectacularly in full symphony sound. The tense intro builds to a goosebump-inducing melody of danger-laden high adventure, making “Gerudo Valley” the best track on the album. “Great Fairy’s Fountain Theme” makes a great interlude before the Twilight Princess movement, which may be the least memorable, but remains an excellent piece, heavy on vocals and with a powerful middle segment. The “Main Theme Melody” is the second most impressive track, nearly defying words. Even those few who have never heard the familiar theme will be inspired right out of their seats. The inclusion of the “secret” sound and the explosive ending make it an instant classic. The final track celebrates Skyward Sword, and, regardless of one’s feelings toward the game, one must admit that the “Ballad of the Goddess” is a beautiful and majestic ode to joy.
The result is almost too good to be true. This is an incredible celebration of The Legend of Zelda, and not just its music, but its endearing whimsy, adventure, and joy as well. The Special Orchestra CD now ranks among my favorite video game music albums. If you have even a passing interest in The Legend of Zelda or video game music, this is a must own.