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Kumi Tanioka – Piano Collections Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Review

Beauty in its simplicity.

Sounds like…

The most chipper piano collection from Final Fantasy yet.

The review

I have a huge soft spot for the original soundtrack of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Kumi Tanioka created the entire soundtrack out of ancient instruments. That sound is right up my street and only Final Fantasy IX has followed a similar vibe in the series. I was nervous at how these quite simple melodies would translate to piano. I needed have bothered. This latest instalment in the Piano Collections series is lovely.

Compared to some of the more experimental and expressionistic recent entries, this collection stays closer to the source material. Kumi Tanioka largely sticks with the original melodies on the tracks she arranges and plays. That being said, she does give them breadth and depth by playing them fully across the 88 keys. The originals had this because of the weird and wonderful instrument set but the original tunes would have been thin if directly translated. Playful pieces like ‘The Village Where It Began’ are just as joyful and fun. ‘Setting Forth’ meanwhile is wistful and melancholy. Both vocal tracks get lovely renditions too and are particularly strong. ‘Morning Sky’ – the full version of ‘Kaze No Ne’ evokes all kinds of feels and is the perfect opener.

Kumi Tanioka

Where the album really flexes away from those refined and prim arrangements are when Yui Morishita joins in. Yui joins for arrangement and playing of the big tracks. ‘Morning Sky’, ‘Promised Grace’, ‘Monster Ronde’ and ‘Woebegone Creature – United, Manifested’ all feature Yui. These are bombastic battle styled tracks that rock the piano. ‘Promised Grace’ has a Royal circus spin to it that effortless gets you excited and ready for action. ‘Monster Ronde’ has some astounding finger gymnastics as Yui and Kumi roll up and down the pianos together. I love how effortlessly the speed of the keys speed by without you knowing just how nuts the arrangement is.

These dramatic moments add a huge burst of energy in to an otherwise beautiful and delicate selection of piano tracks. The balance between the two works really well and stays very close to the source material. Don’t expect any new interludes here. Kumi Tanioka is here to give you the same melodies but on a very different instrument. As it sounds so different translating all those pipe and stringed instruments into piano versions, there is novelty enough already. The Piano Collections from Final Fantasy hasn’t made a duff entry yet and this continues the trend. A jewel in game music arrangement continues to shine.

Whilst it is also still live, this beautiful live performance from Kumi Tanioka and Yae can also be enjoyed below.

Recommended track: Morning Sky

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