Final Fantasy VI had some stunning pieces of music in them and the soundtrack recieved a fully orchestrated arrangment album with “Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale” where it seemed no expense was spared to make things as dramatic and bold as possible. This was the first fully orchestrated arrangement album for the Final Fantasy series and.
“Opening Theme ~ Terra” sets the scene with a beautiful arrangement of the piece. The strings and brass soar and fade with gusto and beauty while the wind instruments delicately dish us the main tune of Terra with panache. There’s additional phases to the track which all slide effortlessly into the original tune as if they’ve always belonged and the track is superb.
“Cefka” is a magical arrangement and is possibly my favouite on the album. It gives the tune an evil circus feel. Its sinister but delicious and cleverly funny with it too. It reminds me of old black and white comedy music scores. “The Mystic Forest” takes the sinister part of the previous track and works it overtime in this slightly abstract arrangement of the song that doesnt get going till 1/3rd of the way through. The use of an operatic singer echoing in the distance is genius.
“Gau” uses the harpsichord with the strings to create a very regal, delicate and whimsical arrangement thats very enjoyable to listen to and remains very faithful to the original melody until the middle section gives us an almost Celtic Moon esque middle improvisational section before returning to the song one more time.
Sadly “Milan De Chocobo” really struggles for me. In essence the 5 minute song could have ten times more effective as a 2 and a half minute piece. Stretching the chocobo song into something slow and almost scary is an original take on the theme granted, but during the middle of the song it all falls apart because the track just doesn’t seem to go anywhere and loses its way. The beginning and end sections are great, but the middle loses it for me.
“Troops On The March” is a large scale orchestration that gives off all the grandure you can possibly manage with militant drums and harsh to the ears brass instruments. “Kids Run Through The City Corner” is much like Gau earlier with strings and harpsichord giving everything they’ve got. Very chamber classical and one of those songs you’ll either love or hate.
“Blackjack” is a track that has taken literally years to grow on me. Upon first listen I thought it was messy and uncohesive. However now I actually really enjoy it as its a breath of fresh air for being relatively simple in its delivery and quite chirpy. “Relm” takes the plesentness further with a surprise inclusion of bag pipes to an orchestrated piece! It’s different and after many listens I’m still not sure if it works better than say a flute, but the rest of the song is absolutely stunning. “Mystery Train” is a daring and delightful madhouse piano and viole solo that isnt afriad to let it all go and throw it about. It pays off too with some ragged, angry white knuckle playing. This is the one track where going absolutely nuts and stucking to it actually works perfectly and it creates its own mini atmosphere to the album.
The closing track is “Aria Di Mezzo Caratterre” which is the famous opera song that rounds off the album with style, class, elegance and power all in one swoop. Svetla Krasteva’s singing is emotive and well rounded and the song gains stature as more instruments join her for a sweeping finale.
Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale has to be admired for its grand scale of its music. Some songs on here are classic adaptations and deserve bags of praise. The flip side is that a couple of the arrangements for trying to be different actually fall short by being overly different (scary chocobo?) but overall and after many years of coming back to album, I’ve grown to enjoy it more and more upno each listen. The perfect companion for any orchestra lovers or for anyone who enjoyed Final Fantasy Symphonic Suite – for everyone else it may be better to find some sample clips first before you make your choice.