If there’s one thing to be said for Michael Hoenig’s soundtrack, is that it fits the atmosphere of the game to a tee. On the one hand are tunes that would best be described as ‘brash’, as exemplified by the “Main Theme”, which greets you upon launching the game and serves to set the overall tone: brass, drums, choirs, all very martial. It’s no coincidence that most of these are combat themes, thus lending real flair to battles, like “Attacked by Assassins” or “Sword against Darkness”. I find them to be the most successful pieces of the soundtrack, although they’re not all of equal quality. Some cross the line into ‘overdone’, such as the too loosely-structured “Fighting for Survival”, the combat music for the Nashkel Mines. “The Last Battle” is also guilty of excessive pomp, but then, considering that it does accompany the final boss battle, it is excusable.
Next to these more energetic compositions are calmer pieces to accompany exploration, whether outdoors or in cities. Most of them sound vaguely like medieval ballads, and, to be entirely fair, some are a bit too similar. Still, they run an effective gamut between the reassuring (“Safe in Beregost”) and the decidedly uneasy (“The Ruins of Ulcaster”). Usually, the result is a mix of both, such as “Exploring the Plains”, the serene yet somewhat furtive track which plays in some of the outdoor areas or the creeping paces of “Cloakwood Forest”. Other highlights include the ominous Candlekeep theme, the outright disquieting “Dream” (which, as the name implies, accompanies the protagonist’s dream sequences), or the peaceful solemnity of “The Lady’s House”, which plays in the Temple of Tymora in Baldur’s Gate. There are also less successful endeavours, such as the rather pedestrian “Helm’s Temple” or “Down to the Sewers”, which sounds a bit like an upset stomach. Actually, considering the context (travelling through the Baldur’s Gate sewers), it’s actually supremely appropriate. Overall, I wouldn’t call any of the tracks outright memorable, but as background music, they work just fine.