Author: Masha Lepire and Chris Wickham
The Valley of the Four Winds is a serene zone of lush farmland located in the heartland of Pandaria. This agricultural hub is also home to the famous heroes Chen Stormstout and Lili, whose relatives own the renowned Stormstout Brewery.
When you first enter this green valley, you are greeted by the discreet ambient sounds of birds and running streams until a low brass section emerges with beautiful sombre melody that features a solo trumpet and accompanying choral and string sections. While it builds up to a louder grandiose theme, it retains an overwhelming feeling of melancholy and solemnity.
The ensemble slowly fades away by 1:14, introducing an oddly playful string theme in C minor, orchestrated with both staccato and plucked playing styles. This later decorated by a spirited flute and trumpet combination. While this theme is immediately striking in its contrast to the region's initially sombre soundscape, it can be considered a humorous reference of the eccentric exploits of the Stormstout Brewery. After all, the brewery itself has been seized by a hozen with a penchant for parties, a giant lagomorph, and an elemental being composed entirely of ale. However, the familiar solemn theme later returns, orchestrated by a dense string and brass arrangement. An isolated lone trumpet laments over the rest of the ensemble before it segues into a beautiful textural 'cello solo that allows the player to reflect on all of the adventures and struggles Chen and his friends had to endure to preserve the Pandaren way of life.
These regal, pensive melodies are passed between the various orchestral sections, and their affiliation with the prestigious Stormstout name ensures they are treated with honour and respect. The combination of solo flute and lush strings enter give the polyphonic melodies an almost holy aura, further supported by gleaming metallic percussion. A sonorous French horn solo is introduced next to play as the strings continue their legato accompaniment. The horn steps back, allowing a lyrical expressive solo 'cello line to return while Asian percussion provides a mystical backdrop.