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Naoko Endo – “Sailing to the World Piano Collection” Review

Following generally very positive comments regarding Yasunori Mitsuda’s “Sailing To The World” Soundtrack to the game “The Seventh Seal”, sometime later a superb little genius has constructed a pianist’s wet dream – a piano arrangement CD and a music book complete with it telling you exactly how it was done. All for the same price as a normal CD. Why can’t other people be so generous?!

Naoko Endo is the pianist charged with the task and each of the ten tracks from the original soundtrack are arranged. “The Door” very much sets the tone for the CD however. The arrangement is sparse yet melodic, moody yet gentle, warmly playful yet slightly dark. It also houses one of the very few times in the arrangments that actually see’s Naoko’s tinkling the ivories go at full pelt too. This piano arranged CD is a very delicate affair indeed.

The title track is next, turning the wonderful Celtic vocal theme into quite a chirpy and noble ballad. Delicate and intricate are the two words that best describe the piece. Even when you get the bass keys played its never with huge gusto for a big finale, its always low profile, a style that you can grow to appreciate or could even get frustrated with. “Melody of Aqua” follows a very similar guideline, another beautiful and gentle melodic journey. Plenty of high notes and pretty twirls added on but no real push.

“Rhythm of Red” is where this style of playing kind of annoys me slightly. Perhaps I had my own preconceptions of a fast paced hyper madness track. Here its quitely interwoven at a slower speed. Yes (thankfully) it has some pace and carries the beautiful headspinning melody with it but its just in a completely different light to how I would have precieved it. I suppose that’s why they are called arrangements! “Path to Enlightenment” never really gets going for me however with too much sparce space between fits and starts although it is quite abstract in its conception so may grow on me still.

“Confrontation” gives us a grand intro only to go back into its previous style of slowly but surely getting there. However the style suits the next track “Melody-Go-Round” with its playful style and lucious piano warmth. “Point of No Return” is another quite but dark piece where the big battle tracks are taken into darkened abstract places. “Hope” however sounds very beautiful in its form on here before the arrangments finish on “Reincarnation” which too suits the piano playing by leaving you with a beautiful melody and an excellent ballad.

I find this arrangment a bizarre one. Its musically challenging, beautiful and melodic but I just find some of it slightly lazy. There’s no tempo change to any of the songs and so everything seems to gel into one piece of mood music. Taken seperately and the songs shine a bit more but it just erks me that the grande original tracks are all down scaled to the same proportions and played out. Its just a bit misplaced. The book however looks great to me and I’m sure once I delve into it properly I’ll enjoy the music further still. Not a bad piano arrangment at all, but not quite what I had in mind!

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