Final Fantasy VIII Piano Collections continues the excellent series’ trend for producing albums that piano lovers can treasure. Taking 13 tracks from the soundtrack and arranging them on a piano, the formulae hasn’t changed, and it doesn’t really have to, its all down to the passion and the arrangements. Shinko Ogata is the ivory maestro this time around and if I could have just a tenth of his piano playing expertise then I’d die a happy man.
“Blue Fields” opens the album with a delicate start of this pleasant tune that calmly pitter-patters though like a dream which “Eyes On Me” calmly takes over. The delicateness of this love song is made even more apparent here in a perfectly converted to piano song. The soft playing of a complicated piece makes for superb music for drifting off to sleep and cuddles in candlelight. “Fisherman’s Horizon” is the last of the trio of dreamy songs, closing the section in beautiful fashion before the album takes a step up in pace.
“Succession Of Witches” strips away the dream to create an uneasy and haunting song awaking you to the evil side of Final Fantasy VIII but retaining a cutesy effect to make it more eerie. “Ami” makes the original piano tune into a beautiful epic with the softest of playing and the loveliest touches to make for an enchanting piece before “Shuffle or Boogie” gives the album a big lift in beat with a bluesy number that provides a nice bit of fun to the collection.
“Find Your Way” is a piece of abstract work that infects the mind with superbly detailed piano work and excellent tension building. “The Oath” is a dramatic uplifting track that gets more confident and powerful as it moves on but never fulfils its promise of a big ending.
“Silence And Motion” is a beautiful song that comes across bitter-sweet but dramatic with the song ever evolving and fast changing in what is one of the best surprises of album. “The Castle” is one of the most complex songs on the album with several different sections the song. Some are dramatic and slow, others complex and fast giving us another great evolving track. Having spoken to many pianists just being able to play this track is a marvel in itself. “The Successor” continues the evolving complexity trend with a song with a very different view to an end boss theme. It slows it right down and gives it a beauty that could have been lost in all the power of the original. Its not what I was expecting, but it gives the end boss theme a very unique edge to it.
“Ending Theme” is dramatic, elegant and regal all at the same time with several sections to it, including the Final Fantasy theme and the near 6-minute epic is a fantastic piece of work. The closing track is the extremely fun and very complex “Slide Show Part2” with ends the album on a light note with a great, bouncy classic Laurel and Hardy sounding song!
Final Fantasy VIII Piano Collection is probably the most relaxed of the all the collections to date. Its emphasis on soft but complex melodies holds it in a good stead and the more you listen, the more you hear and the more you enjoy. Another gem in the collection.