Long term readers know I’m a sucker for a piano arrangement of game music. Having discovered Granblue Fantasy released its second piano collection last month, I tentatively picked it up as I’m not too familiar with the original game music itself. The arrangements are by Shiro Sato and played by Benyamin Nuss.
Shiro Sato worked as arranger on the Final Fantasy V Piano Collection, which is one of my favourites and his style shines here too. His arrangements stay largely true to the original but they take into account the bombastic nature of the piano and its range of depth. This makes so many of the tracks here in Granblue Fantasy’s PCII absolute shimmer and sparkle.
The opening track ‘Nalgegrande’ sets the scene perfectly with a regal and grande production – a piano rich with depth and beauty. The arrangement itself makes use of the tracks innate folksy traveller feel. There’s a jaunty skip in the beat and melody as well as a cutesy foreboding that chimes so well on a piano rendition. This delicate balance continues with ‘Blue Sky’ which enjoys taking circular patterns and letting them unfurl down the octaves of keys whilst never going for the full of drama feel. That’s saved for ‘Platinum Sky’ which translates a dramatic battle like theme into a roaring and rousing piece.
Easily one of my favourite pieces on the collection is ‘The Rusty Bloodline That Burns the Blue Sky’. It takes what on the face of it is a quite simple four chord pattern and melody and keeps breathing more and more life into it. I had it on repeat for ages – its sublime. Nuss’ playing on the gentle ‘Groz Island ~Meeting Ground of the Heroes~’ deserves a lot of praise too as his playing style is perfect for slowly building up passion, volume and complexity as he plays. It all sounds so effortless and magical.
Where Shiro Sato has worked his magic in the arrangements is that he manages to make most tracks really dynamic. Both ‘Good Day’ and ‘New World Order’ have moments of tranquillity as well as big epic moments too whilst ‘The Fifth Primarch’ flicks between sadness and light high notes and flowing torrents of emotional waves effortlessly. Going back to the original compositions, the fact they had this balance too makes everything flow perfectly too.
After the beautiful ‘Rose Queen’, two epic eight minute pieces smash you a little further into the ground. ‘Second Advent’ and, in particular, ‘The Stars High in the Sky’ are huge and bombastic. The latter is on par with some of the best battle piano arrangements out there. After panting for breath the album closes with the emotional ‘Lyria’ which reprises old themes wistfully and is an excellently patriotic closer.
It’s been a little while since a game music piano collection has utterly smashed it (Stardew Valley’s being the most recent). Granblue Fantasy Piano Collections II is on the top tier with ease. Supreme craftmenship from both Shiro Sato and Benyamin Nuss make this a masterpiece. Grab it.
Recommended track: The Rusty Bloodline That Burns the Blue Sky
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