The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess remains my most favorite game to this day. However, one of the most harped issues is the sound quality of the music. There is little doubt that the music was meticulously written. However, the soundtrack is played through what is essentially a grander MIDI synthesizer. In 2006, the advent of real orchestra use and sophisticated music software in gaming made some of Twilight Princess’s music sound noticeably artificial. It did not stop the music from creating memorable themes for the Zelda Franchise. Through years of work, a small group known as Zelda Reorchestrated produced a “reorchestration” album of the music in Twilight Princess. The album is titled Twilight Symphony. It could be described as TP’s music put through a much more realistic-sounding orchestra, but it went much further than that.
Zelda Reorchestrated, also known as ZREO, is a small group of dedicated musicians and Legend of Zelda fans. The team name has been around since 2004. What Zelda Reorchestrated does is take the music of the Zelda franchise and recreates them into a more realistic symphony sound. Prior to the Twilight Symphony project, the team reorchestrated different tracks across different Zelda games, with focus tending towards completing Ocarina of Time.
The Twilight Princess reorchestration project began under the codename Project Marenello. The name officially became Twilight Symphony in June 2010. The endeavor took over five years to complete, and is the largest project of its kind. The track count stands at fifty-one, for a total listening time of three hours and twenty-five minutes.
Twilight Symphony consisted of some very notable people within the team. The first is Jeron Moore, executive producer and creative director, who is also the creative lead for the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses touring concert series. John Kurlander, famous for his mixing work in the Lord of the Rings films, and Tim Davis, lead vocal arranger and contractor for “Glee”, are a part of the choir recording staff. The other main ZREO staff members, Wayne Strange, Tom Stoney, and Eric Buchholz, have contributed to the Symphony of the Goddesses tour. Notable musicians include pianist Kyle Landry and vocalist Aubrey Ashburn.
Twilight Symphony is more than re-mastered Zelda: Twilight Princess music with authentic-sounding instruments. In that area though, it is almost as perfect as imaginable. The instrument sample libraries and software used feel and sound convincing to the point where it is difficult to distinguish from the actual musician recordings used in most of the tracks. The quality of the performances by the musicians, choir, and arrangements is impeccable. There are no issues that I point at unless I am to be very picky. Every once in a while, I would catch a sound that likely came from the 32kbps realm, but is a very minor and infrequent issue. Endless amounts of professional-grade work will be found in this album. Sound quality does not get much better than this.
One of the biggest highlights of Twilight Symphony is the use of a real professional choir. Funded through community-driven fundraisers, the choir that was hired had eighteen credited singers. To compensate the lack of singers, triple tracking was used to magnify the scale of the choir to that of a massive orchestra. The Twilight Symphony choir may not have as much finesse as the ones heard in high-end Hollywood film trailers, but the level of performance is still very high. Arrangements for the group are spot-on and expertly utilized in the music. Some notable tracks found include the Overture, Light Spirits’ Message, and A Door to the Past (TP version of Song of Time). The use of a professional choir aids the Twilight Symphony experience.
The Twilight Symphony experience begins with the selection of music that is identified with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Sure, the melodies of Zelda’s Lullaby, Saria’s Song, Fairy’s Fountain, and the Song of Time will be heard, but they are specifically the Twilight Princess variation. Professional performances by experienced musicians and a professional choir add another layer of authenticity.
Possibly the biggest thing that defines the Twilight Symphony experience is the arrangement of the music. It is not just a note-by-note interpretation of the original soundtrack. The team went above and beyond to arrange the music to make it better than it already was. The differences between the original version and the Twilight Symphony version are as if the Twilight Princess remake had arrived. The flow of the music, the dynamic range, the emotional delivery, and the brilliant arrangements really deliver on the symphonic feel. Listening to Twilight Symphony was as if I was reliving the adventure. They truly have captured the quintessential essence and style of Twilight Princess.
Twilight Symphony is really something to respect. For a small team of Legend of Zelda fans to begin such an ambitious project and finish it is an achievement. For a group of Zelda fans and talented musicians to put in prodigious amounts of effort and create one of the most professional community-made albums ever deserves applause. There is so much attention to the most minute details that there is no other way I can rate this album other than perfect. If you are a fan of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, if you are a fan of the Zelda franchise, or even if you are a fan of video game music in general, take a look at Twilight Symphony. Very few community works are able to reach this level of quality.
Final Score: 10/10
Note: At the time of this writing, the digital copies of Twilight Symphony have not yet been released.