I have long-held a very brightly burning candle for the Final Fantasy piano collection series. Over the course of the games, they have continually been arranged into high standard, stand alone affairs that are a beauty to listen to and experience. For a game where it’s soundtrack is mixed into all the others, I wondered how this would go – but I’m delighted to say it’s another fantastic piano album.
The ten tracks are split between two arrangers and four different pianists, which is unusually scattered for this project. What is surprising is how cohesive the whole album feels. This is possibly the most classical imagining of a Final Fantasy piano album to date. The opening duo of tracks are gothic laden octave grinders that ebb and flow like the water. “Dreaming of the Dawn -Somnus-” is the more dainty of the two whilst “Of Bygone Days -Sorrow Without Solace-” is intent on broody low notes and a heavy left hand bringing the dark gravitas.
One of my favourites is the deceptively complex “Waltzing and Moonbeams -Valse di Fantastica-” which is so full of twirls, melodic flicks and aperitifs that your ears first time round simply can’t appreciate it. The craftsmanship is of the highest calibre. The battle theme “Illusions of the Morn -Stand your Ground-” is equally as complex but more fraught and upfront with the drama. The rolling arpeggios evoke a retro battle theme or two as well.
The album take a ballad turn for “Blest Be the Moonlight -LUNA-” which has such a tippy toe opening and showcases the delicate side of arrangements before too going the way of quietly complex. “Drunk on Darkness -Veiled in Black-” is the spooky and kooky arrangement but actually feels more mystical gypsy than anything else. The second half is especially awesome as things really get grande. The juxtaposition of the chirpy and clunky waltz of “In Celestial Circles -Starlit Waltz-” makes both tracks stand out. The waltz itself is utterly charming and the sole track you could pop into the fun category. It’s a much-needed relief track but the complexity and changes of waltz delivery make it a technical marvel.
The final trio of tracks return to the classical baroque/gothic feel that invades the arrangements. In particular “Rulings and Revelations -OMNIS LACRIMA-” really wants to have its own dramatic episode as it goes nuts for its finale. The two Noctis tracks either side support it really well and the closer “Shadows Foretold” ends too soon as its such a rousing track – I was left wanting a sword rising encore!
Whilst the piano collection goes for a style and sticks with it throughout, the level of complexity of the arrangements and sheer emotion put into each performance is second of none. It’s a fantastic addition to the series and a must have for all lovers of the ivories.
Recommended Track : Waltzing amid Moonbeams -Valse di Fantastica-