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Final Fantasy V Piano Collections :: Review by Jillian

Final Fantasy V Piano Collections Album Title: Final Fantasy V Piano Collections
Record Label: NTT Publishing
Catalog No.: N30D-018 (1st Print); NTCP-1002 (Reprint)
Release Date: June 21, 1993; June 27, 2001
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Like its forefather the Final Fantasy V Piano Collections lacked the difficulty, dramatic power, and stupefying performance that its followers would have. Although it isn't very popular with other listeners, there is a certain amicable and nostalgic presence about this album. The important thing to remember is that the quality of the album, for the most part, is in sync with the game, so it stays fixed to the original story lines. As I state in the review for "A Presentiment," the albums simplicity allows the music to speak for itself, conveying a story without all of the dramatic overflows from other Piano Collections. While I myself am I fan of the super-arranged tracks that would come to follow, I honestly love this album.

Track-by-Track Reviews

1) A Presentiment

Opening somewhat dully, "A Presentiment" picks up along the way. There is a low, dark, rather unfamiliar tone to it, but the different parts of the track act out the title well. Simply put, "A Presentiment" is a thoroughly defined arrangement of an opening track, and it maintains what all opening tracks should. The simplicity of the arrangement allows the music to speak for itself, and when listening to it, you can hear the formation of a story coming to life. (8/10)

2) Tenderness in the Air

You can't go wrong with a town theme, and "Tenderness in the Air" is no different. The track is changed from its roots a lot more than others on the Piano Collection, which adds a nice bit of diversity to the album. "Tenderness in the Air" still holds true to the thin arrangement and light tone, giving it a completely enjoyable airy feel. Imagery of a quaint village life will fill your head, and that is what it aims to do, too. The emotion is conveyed excellently through the chimes at the beginning, the building up in the middle, and the somewhat yearning harmonic chords at the end. (10/10)

3) Harvest

"Harvest" stems away from the subtlety of "Tenderness in the Air," and delights the listener with a simple, adorable arrangement. Although not necessarily played with great emotion, "Harvest" is certain to evoke feelings of a light-hearted nature within the listener. It breaks away from a set of staccato notes into a pedalled, more dramatic section accompanied by a country-like vibe. The overall fun of this track is reminiscent of another country-like arrangement: Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack's "Shuffle or Boogie." (10/10)

4) Ahead on Our Way

Again, Satou is able to bring forth power and emotion through simplicity. The elementary harmony, composed mainly of strong chords and arpeggios, allow the melody to propel forward with power and emotion. Fresh and enjoyable, emotion is certainly pushed into the track during the second half. This treasure of a track is able to do what Hamaguchi's Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections "Main Theme of Final Fantasy VII" was not; it brings out the drama and story that all over world themes bring out. It's interesting to note, however, that both are rather similar to their originals. (10/10)

5) Critter Tripper Fritter!?

Oh, those Moogles! This track is completely lovable and naughty in its lack of harmony and complete focus on melody. The track takes a dive into the deep end of arrangements some seventy seconds into the track, when staccato notes and breaks are abound. While hardly pretty, it's hard not to like this track, for while it certainly isn't as attractive as "Tenderness in the Air," there is a completely likeable nature to it all the same. Experimental and colorful; Satou took a chance here, and it was a good one, too. (9/10)

6) My Home, Sweet Home

"My Home, Sweet Home" is one of the most emotional tracks on the album. This track is nostalgic and smooth towards the start, but it soon breaks away with powerful, sudden chords, which take away from the bittersweet tone. After a series of startling chords, the piece mellows out again into a darker and sadder arrangement, with the melody being played in the left hand, leaving the right hand in charge of a high harmony. The track displays all that the Final Fantasy V Original Sound Version track did: bittersweet romance, nostalgia, perchance, and loneliness. (9/10)

7) Mambo de Chocobo

While Satou arranged the Final Fantasy IV Original Sound Version's Chocobo theme into a somewhat jazzy piece, he adds a more relaxed, mambo feel to this one. Like "Critter Tripper Fritter?!," this is one of the most diverse tracks on the CD, proving that Satou can work wonders with both simple and experimental arrangements. This track is truly mambo-like in its feel; which makes me want a Cheeseburger in Paradise, or something like that. (9/10)

8) Lenna's Theme

While I raved over Satou's ability to evoke emotion through simplicity, even I cannot bring myself to enjoy "Lenna's Theme," the true bad seed of the album. Every album has those few completely appalling tracks; ironically, in the Original Sound Version, "Lenna's Theme" was very popular and very pretty. So what happened? In an effort to do what he'd been continually doing with his other tracks, Satou set out to bring forth the emotion and mind of Lenna through her piano arranged theme. However, this track is too overly simplistic, making the rest of the album seem Hamaguchi-arranged. This is a track that should have been better. (2/10)

9) Music Box

Another popular track in the Original Sound Version, "Music Box" continues to maintain that popularity with its Piano Collections arrangement. Though not the best track on the album, it certainly isn't one of the worst, and it is able to maintain certain qualities and drama, too. Filled with emotion and usage of dynamics, this is one of the more passionate tracks on the album, able to present a light tone alongside a brief, darker one. (8/10)

10) Battle with Gilgamesh

"Battle with Gilgamesh" combines powerful fortissimos with piano arpeggios in such brilliance that you just want to get your fingers flying. "Battle with Gilgamesh" starts off quietly enough in staccato form, with brief usage of the pedal. It changes smoothly into legato form, becoming more harmonic and passionate. After a brief bout of power, it decrescendos into utter quietude, where it picks up a feel of mysteriousness and simple adrenaline. The speed picks up again, before the melody and harmony stop together in a single chord for more dramatic effect! (10/10)

11) Waltz Clavier

"Waltz Clavier" keeps with up the light-hearted tone alongside "Critter Tripper Fritter?!" and "Harvest." Enjoyable in its blitheness and bounciness, the track takes a turn at the end when it slowly progresses up the keys and takes a brief run back down them. The waltz is then lost and replaced with a brief jazzy country feel, and then into an almost improvised arrangement of the track. It then returns to the waltz, ending with a simple little note. (8/10)

12) Dear Friends

Not following any particular style, "Dear Friends" is there to tell you the story of Final Fantasy V. Beauty has never been found more simply than in "Dear Friends," the true prize of Final Fantasy V Piano Collection's album. It reveals a fantastic way to transition from cheerful to hopeful, to melancholy to mysterious, and round again in a matter of seconds. The track takes a more mysterious turn when there's about one minute and fifty-five seconds left of the track, when the melody and harmony are played together in the right hand; then, it turns into powerful, more melodic chords, and finally back into a more standard melody and harmony. "Dear Friends" is one of those treasures that are like a bonfire; capable of bringing back any and all sorts of memories. (10/10)

13) The New Origin

A lesser in the group of piano arranged ending themes, "The New Origin" opens with a familiar and likeable melody ("The Dragon Spreads its Wings") before delving off into a medley of various tracks from the game. Powerful yet subdued, it is a good musical mirror for the game's somewhat denouement of an end. The game takes a more serious, somewhat dramatic turn in the last part of the first half of the track, when the arpeggios take on a solo and extend out into runs. Overall, this is not one of the better tracks on the album; however, as far as ending themes go, it's great. The ending is worth it, as well. (8/10)


While I love the challenge that arranged piano tracks like the ones in the Final Fantasy IX Piano Collections and others provide, I very much respect Satou's goal for his Final Fantasy V Piano Collections project: to convey story and emotion through simplicity. I believe he does an excellent job in this. You guys will find it weird, though, that I'm not the biggest fan of Final Fantasy IV Piano Collections album, considering that, technically it is the same as Final Fantasy V Piano Collections. Yes, I contradict myself in every aspect when it comes to this album, but that's just how it is.

Overall Score: 10/10