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Final Fantasy V Piano Collections :: Forum Review

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


Written by Chris

Many group the Final Fantasy IV Piano Collections and the Final Fantasy V Piano Collections together; however, to me these two Piano Collections are actually very different. This album is much more experimental in nature, sometimes where it need not to be, with tracks like "Lenna's Theme," "Critter Tripper Fritter" and "Waltz Clavier" being subjected to great experimentation in particular. With the Final Fantasy IV Piano Collections, however, you were pushed to find much other than translations of original melodies into simple arrangements.

Still, despite this, they share three important characteristics in common: firstly their arranger is Shiro Satou, secondly the performer is still Toshiyuki Mori, and thirdly the arrangements produced are often basic, inappropriate and unmusical. Indeed, despite being more interesting than the Final Fantasy IV Piano Collections, its overall quality is lower. This therefore means it still fails to match its later predecessors from Hamauzu, Hamaguchi and Nomura.

Track-by-Track Reviews

1) A Presentiment (Written by Totz)

The album doesn't start off very well. Satou doesn't do a very good job on arranging a great song into a piano piece. There are some good parts (like around 2:55 to 3:10), but nothing breathtaking. Satou doesn't really write a new part for the song, he just takes the songs' score, then copy it into his "arrangement" and add very few things. Overall, a weak arrangement, and a poor way to start the Final Fantasy V Piano Collections. (5/10)

2) Tenderness in the Air (Written by Conqueso)

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and Satou proves it with this heartbreaking arrangement of Final Fantasy V's city theme. Thanks to the simple arrangement and thin texture, this track has a pure, airy feeling to it, from its insistent bell chime at the opening, to its passionate development, through to its aching, nuanced harmonies at the end. Throughout, the emotion is right at the surface, and while it's not as fancy as a Hamauzu or even a Hamaguchi arrangement, it has a warmth and purity to it that's hard to top. If only every Satou arrangement were this good. (8/10)

3) Harvest (Written by Gilgamesh)

This is Final Fantasy V's other town theme (the lively one) and I think this is one of the more interesting arrangements in the album. Despite both town themes playing one after another on the CD, this one follows the last track well. Light but harsh chords set the track towards the main lively tune. At first, the left hand part seems a bit light but I think it was done on purpose in order to contrast the speedier middle "jazzy" section. Like a few of the Final Fantasy IV Piano Collection tracks, Satou shows his skill in integrating a bit of jazz with the theme in question. The end section sounds nice but seems a little disconnected from the rest of the track. But overall, a fairly nice arrangement. (7/10)

4) Ahead on Our Way (Written by Chris)

This is another theme that is typical of Shiro Satou's simplistic arranging. Indeed while airy fresh and revealing in atmosphere, it remains homophonic in texture throughout with just basic tonic chords and arpeggio patterns accompanying its translated melodies. While there is no doubt that the melodies are just as enchanting as ever, Satou's arrangement doesn't anything beyond its original thanks to yet more simplistic and insufficient arranging. (6/10)

5) Critter Tripper Fritter!? (Written by Chris)

There is hardly anyone who doesn't like "Critter Tripper Fritter," or rather "Mog's Theme," particularly when it comes in the form of an amazingly dissonant arrangement. The use of the light-hearted melodies continue to add a very tuneful nature to it, but Satou manages to expand upon this by adding lots of discords, all of which add to the colour of the piece. The bizarre ad-lib passages provide particular source of amusement, particularly when the piano carries on with a monophonic melody regardless of the madness preceding it. Some people don't like this describing it as too experimental for their tastes; however, for me, such experimentation is always good, particularly in a Piano Collections album. (10/10)

6) My Home, Sweet Home (Written by B Major)

This track is very smooth and relaxed. The melody is very well presented and its accompaniment is nice. When those big chords jump out, it is quite startling if you have never heard the piece before. After the piece experiences a few of these chords, the smooth nature once returns and the melody and accompaniment also mature a little. This is my favorite part of the piece. Then, unfortunately, the big chords come back. I feel that the explosive chords ruin the mood of the piece. Performance wise, the piece has no flaws, but I feel the arranger could have done a little better. Those chords just ruin the piece for me. (6/10)

7) Mambo de Chocobo (Written by Gilgamesh)

Ah, here's our famous chocobo theme. It was interesting to see how Satou would arrange this Chocobo theme after making a rather decent jazzy version of this theme on the Final Fantasu IV Piano Collections. Despite being simpler than its Final Fantasy IV counterpart, you can hear the deliberate change in style. It really does feel like a mambo as the music style, particular near the middle, feels like relaxing tropical beach music. Not an outstanding arrangement, but not a boring overly simplistic one either. (5/10)

8) Lenna's Theme (Written by Chris)

"Lenna's Theme" was among my favourites of the Final Fantasy V Original Sound Version with its gentle melodic beauty so finely encrafted by Uematsu. The same cannot be said for its Piano Collection counterpart, however, which is simply a foul and hideous creation. It is one of those prime examples where Shiro Satou decides to divert away from his usual routine of making piano replicas of originals; however, it is also a prime example of how often he miserably fails. It starts off drearily with a rather lifeless monophonic piano melody. Eventually the left hand joins in and some imitative and canonic structures are introduced; however, the potential creativity in this feature is hindered by the fact that there is so much repulsive dissonance pointlessly added between the parts. After some time it manages to get away from this, and yet despite some interesting bits, it generally progresses in a dull and directionless manner. My definition of hell would be putting this track on loop and having to listen to it for eternity. I mean, really, just don't go there! (2/10)

9) Music Box (Written by Totz)

After the disasterous arrangement of "Lenna's Theme," Satou provides us with an simple, yet effective arrangement of "Music Box." I felt that the arrangement was actually better than the Original Sound Version's "Music Box" (and that is rare when it comes to Satou's arrangements). This piece is filled with emotion, and because of that, it's one of Satou's best arrangements. Anyway, this is one of the highlights of this album. (9/10)

10) Battle with Gilgamesh (Written by Totz)

This just goes to prove that not all battle theme arrangements have to have a thick texture and have to be played at fff all the time. I think it's a hard task to arrange a battle theme into a piano piece, but Satou manges to pull it off. The original version is excellent, and so is this PC arrangement. I recommend it. Definitely. (9/10)

11) Waltz Clavier (Written by B Major)

This track could have been alot better, but it is not a total waste of time. Slow moving and kind of boring, Waltz Clavier posesses a certain feel to it that makes it somewhat enjoyable. It is not, by any means, a bad arrangement, but it isnt a good one either. The mediocrity can be especially noticed in some of the left hand parts that don't sound quite right. I think anyone who listens to this track will be intrigued for at least 59% of the song, which is more than I can say for alot of the other tracks on this album *cough cough* "Lenna's Theme" *cough cough*. (6/10)

12) Dear Friends (Written by Gilgamesh)

I hate to always rip on this theme but I felt that "Dear Friends" was always one of the more overrated Final Fantasy V themes in general. It's certainly a pretty tune but it was something that I never grew to love. Being an already simple and simple theme in the Original Ssoundtrack, Satou doesn't have much work to do except for adding some fancy piano motifs in the upper right hand part towards the latter half of this arrangement which make it mildly interesting. (6/10)

13) The New Origin (Written by Chris)

Like most ending themes, this theme is a medley of several of the melodies that have appeared in the game. I really actually pity the pianist Mori for having to play this, considering he evidently tries his best throughout to add life to this dull arrangement. His efforts throughout are admirable, but not even Mori cannot achieve the impossible and turn Satou's arrangement into something enjoyable. The start of the arrangement is notoriously dreary dragging on for several minutes without any clear direction. The more mysterious second section that follows is also tiresome, both for the arranger in that he has to play an excessive amount of trills, as well as the listener who has to listen to it repeat almost identically for a total of three times. I didn't have much fondness for the end of the arrangement too, which is primarily just a recapitulation of the "Dear Friends" theme. Just like the rest of the arrangement, this part is dull, monotonous and dragged out to the point of tedium. (4/10)


Written by B Major

Overall, this is by far the worst Piano Collections album. I was extremely annoyed by the poor quality of some of the arrangements. While there are a few gems among the vile and toxic sewage that this album is mainly composed of, none of them truly stood out and left me with a good impression. This was truly a waste of money for me, and I wish that Satou had done a much better job. (3/10)

Written by Chris

This album is easily the worst of the series' numerous Piano Collections albums. There are several hidden gems such as "Critter Tripper Fritter" and "Battle With Gilgamesh," but beyond this, the rest are either dull and lifeless, inappropriate in style, or too simple for prolonged listening to be sustained. Furthermore, while the attempts at experimentation often make the arrangements more interesting than the Final Fantasy IV Piano Collections, the fact that these attempts are usually unsuccessful mean it certainly doesn't beat it. I won't lie and say that you will thoroughly enjoy this album: it takes a lot of guts to listen to it through intensely for even the most hardcore Final Fantasy fan. However, if you appreciate the Piano Collections of the rest of the series then I see no reason why you won't enjoy at least some of the arrangements in this album. (6/10)

Written by Gilgamesh

Despite the overall success of the Final Fantasy Piano Collections series for VGM, the Final Fantasy V Piano Collections are by far the weakest album. Though Satou's arrangements in the Final Fantasy IV Piano Collections were simple and not very creative, the melodies still sounded richer on piano compared to direct OSV translations. It seems Satou tried to be more experimental in the Final Fantasy V Piano Collections, but it's very hard to go against one's natural style. A few of the pieces (particularly the "Battle With Gilgamesh") turned out great but many of the others sounded awful with their dissonance. Overall, only a hardcore VGM collector should pick up this title for series completion. There isn't too much to miss here. (3/10)

Written by Totz

Every Piano Collections album has its weak points. Unfortunately, both albums arranged by Satou have a lot of weak points. His arrangements are mostly carbon-copies of the original songs, with a few chords and some weird-sounding passages (see: "Lenna's Theme" for example). But I'll still give Satou some credit, because he was the first PC arranger so nobody was sure about what to expect from the arrangements. Anyway, listen to this album only if you're a real Final Fanatsy V fan, because his arrangements on this one are inferior to the Final Fanatsy IV Piano Colections, and, even though we get excellent arrangements like "Music Box" and "Battle With Gilgamesh," the rest is, simply put, subpar. (5/10)

Average of Summary Scores: 4/10