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Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections :: Forum Review

Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections Album Title: Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections
Record Label: NTT Publishing
Catalog No.: PSCN-5005 (1st Print); NTCP-1003 (Reprint)
Release Date: July 25, 2001; June 25, 1994
Purchase: Buy at CDJapan


Written by Totz

After the two huge disapointments that were the two previous Piano Collections albums, someone at Square probably thought: "Hey, let's get someone who knows how to arrange music into decent, flowing piano pieces!" And then there was Reiko Nomura.

She has done an amazing work in this album. From the inherently sad "Gau," to the playfully evil "Cefca," to the delightfully mysterious "The Mystery Train," there is no track you will want to skip! And just like Uematsu raised the bar with the Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version, so did Nomura with this Piano Collection. It is a treat to listen to anytime and the arrangements never get old.

Track-by-Track Reviews

1) Tina (Written by Tim)

I feel honored to get to review this track. "Tina" is perhaps the most influential piece of music I've ever heard. I decided I wanted to learn how to play piano after listening to it. It stands out to me because it's so simple, yet so complex. The same basic main melody is played throughout, but the accompaniment changes, giving the piece several unique identities. Gentle chord progressions in the beginning set the mood, followed by beautiful, flowing arpeggios. A gradual crescendo greets the next, and most powerful section, and then the delicate arpeggios take over again. The ending section strays from the Original Sound Version's "Tina" slightly, but puts a glorious cap on the piece. "Tina" is a truly remarkable piece of music and truly should be in every Final Fantasy fan's piano repertoire. (10/10)

2) Gau (Written by Jared)

Here is a suprisingly good theme. While I wasn't a fan of the Original Sound Version's "Gau", this one is superb and has many complexities. However, at some parts I feel it is not expressive enough and sometimes changes pace too often. It also seems to just end without any special flourish. This is a wonderful track, however, and a worthy addition to the album. (8/10)

3) Cefca (Written by Jared)

This is one of my favorites on this album. Its a crazy theme that well suits perhaps the craziest villian in the Final Fantasy series, Cefca (Kefka). It's played wonderfully and expessively and really gets exciting towards the middle and end of the track. However, this track is pretty repetitive and could get annoying with repeated listens. Just like "Gau," it has no special ending and seems as if it should have gone on. (9/10)

4) Spinach Rag (Written by Chris)

This track is a short light-hearted rag. While one of the less remarkable tracks in the album, it certainly gives the early part of this album a lot of life, which is definitely worth something. My biggest criticism of this theme is the fact that the first section repeats so many times (although most often with different harmonies). This gives a distinctly repetitive nature to the arrangement, particularly considering Nobuo Uematsu's original melody used here was hardly the most complex in the first place. I felt the direct repeat at the beginning was particularly needless. Why not just straight into the development section? After all it is much more interesting. (7/10)

5) Stragus (Written by Chris)

I've seen so much bad press made against this arrangement. Supposedly the fact that Nomura diverts from a straightforward arrangement into an experimental, Bartokian one full of dissonance and discords is a bad thing. Do you agree? If you agree then that's your choice; however, being one to experiment, I can safely say that this is among my favourites in the album. This dissonance is not purposeless unlike many Satou's arrangements in the Final Fantasy V Piano Collections - instead it gives both a vivid interpretation of the loopy character of Stragus and brings out a new level of musicality to Nobuo Uematsu's original melodies. When these melodies are introduced they are not misfits but instead work effectively within this style in a lyrical, folky and almost enigmatic way. Love it or hate it, this track certainly brings Final Fantasy Piano Collections to a new level and is a landmark in these album's history. (10/10)

6) The Mystic Forest (Written by Gilgamesh)

This is a wonderful arrangement of the forest or cave theme from Final Fantasy VI. Though the opening may seem a bit simple, the patience is well worth your time as the piece slowly builds up. A simple melody is slowly transformed into a beautiful and rich sounding passage during the middle or "bridge" of "The Mystic Forest." The quick paced "broken up" notes of this secondary theme really stand out well; I was really amazed at how a simple arrangement of notes could create such a full sound. Also, one of the best qualities in this piece is the use of "wavering" tempo - the player changes from slow to quick playing during key sections to give an overall wave effect. I did not care for the theme when I had heard the Original Sound Version during gameplay but this track alone turned it into one of my favorites. An absolutely beautiful piece that made me want to learn it myself and motivated me to find more Final Fantasy piano collection arrangements. (10/10)

7) Kids Run Through The City Corner (Written by Jared)

This is a nice mellow, relaxing track. It's played very nicely, with good expression and dynamics. However, it doesn't really develop into anything, it just repeats itself. That's not to say it gets boring or annoying. When you listen to it, you get a feeling of peace, which is conveyed quite nicely in this arrangement. It's not without problems though. The beginning seems to be a little too cluttered and annoying however this changes about 6 seconds into the arrangement. Its a very worthy track though, and adds more variety to album. (8/10)

8) Johnny C Bad (Written by Chris)

This track uses every hackneyed jazz technique there is: stride and walking basses over the blues pentatonic scale; heavily syncopated rhythms; comping homophonic accompaniments; plus lots and lots of stop choruses. Some people criticise this, but hang on, isn't this the theme's purpose? After all, it is a parody of Johnny B Goode! It fulfils this functional purpose well and also serves well for lots of light listening. For the pianists, this is also a real challenge to play! Attempt it, I dare you! (10/10)

9) Mystery Train (Written by Jared)

This was one of my favorites from the Original Sound Version, and this arrangement doesn't disappoint. It's very expressive and dynamic, conveying a wonderful sense of fright and creepiness. Though, in places it seems as if there are simply too many keys being hit at once. It almost seems like overkill, because there is such a contrast between notes in just one chord. Besides that, there isn't really any problems with this one, though it's not completely awe-inspiring. A very worthy addition to a very worthy album. (9/10)

10) The Decisive Battle (Written by Chris)

Nomura's approach to this arrangement is very similar to most Piano Collections arrangements. I would describe this as the 'blast away' approach i.e. bulky textures, frenzied tempos, jagged articulation and top-heavy dynamics practically all the way through! Although nothing particularly revolutionary musically or progressively in these respects, the arrangement is no doubt a fan's favourite what with its firm and full-blown approach. Additionally, melodically it stands out high like many of the other tracks in this album. Indeed this is partially due to the fact that Nobuo Uematsu's original was so catchy in the first place; however, the jumpy syncopated rhythms Nomura introduces with them along with several exciting chord sequences certainly give strong emphasis upon them. All in all, this track, although nothing extraordinary, is well worth listening to and proves a strong overall favourite in this album. (9/10)

11) Coin Song (Written by Gilgamesh)

In contrast to all the rich, loud, and quick paced arrangements from several preceding tracks, Nomura offers a simple and soft piano arrangement for "Coin Song." Similar to the style of the older Final Fantasy Piano Collections, "Coin Song" is the perfect track to utilize simplicity as it needs to convey a soft, sad and reminiscent emotion. Aside from several portions here and there, this arrangement sticks to simple motifs and does not deviate from the original melody too much. Nevertheless, this is a great tune to listen to and a piece that is fairly easy to play for the early pianist. (8/10)

12) Celes (Written by Jared)

This could possibly be my favorite track on this album. It starts off mysterious, but then turns into a very romantic piece using the same melody as in "Aria di Mezzo Caraterre." This track is played wonderfully, very nice dynamics and expression. This track manages to hold several different feelings, including love, sadness, and hope. The only track that compares to this one is "Tina," as they are both very strong, emotional character themes, some of the best Uematsu has ever composed. My only problem with the track is that I wish it were longer, though that is just because of my love for it. (10/10)

13) Waltz de Chocobo (Written by Chris)

Some say every Final Fantasy album has to have a Chocobo theme. I agree with this to some extent; however, with the Final Fantasy IV Piano Collections - Final Fanatsy VII Piano Collections all having an arrangement of the Chocobo theme I think this is excessive and quite backwards. There's only so much you can do with a solo piano. Nomura's creativity is not lost on this arrangement, however, and she convincingly brings out a romantic side from an originally brash theme. Give me this instead of any of Satou's or Hamaguchi's arrangements any day. It doesn't mean I would love to see what she would do with "The Wedding Waltz," however. (9/10)


Written by Chris

The two predecessors to this album were disappointments: the Final Fantasy IV Piano Collections were quite plain while the Final Fantasy V Piano Collections were completely off target. The fundamental problem was their arranger Shiro Satou. By replacing him with Reiko Nomura for this album, the Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections transformed almost miraculously. New techniques and styles were appropriately integrated into practically all arrangements and this allowed her to offer a great variety of arrangements for this album. This ranges from the heart-rending beauty of "Tina" and "Celes" to the relaxing sensations in "Johnny C. Bad" and "Spinach Rag" to even the experimental madness of "Stragus" and "Cefca." Not a single arrangement is weak, unmemorable or out of place with them coming together collectively to offer a Piano Collections album whose level of consistent goodness is only rivalled by that of Final Fantasy X-2's album. This is a must buy for any piano or Final Fantasy fan! (9/10)

Written by Gilgamesh

Wow. I'm amazed at how great this album turned out to be - the arrangements, despite being relatively simple compared to latter Final Fantasy Piano Collections, have a certain style and feel to them that really bring out each track's strong qualities. There is a wide range of piano pieces (fast, calm, slow, epic) but more importantly, each track sounds just as good as the last. I can't think of one bad track in this album. However, the notables that really stood out to me personally were "Tina," "The Phantom Forest," and "The Decisive Battle" - these classic Final Fanatsy VI themes were wonderfully translated into very rich sounding arrangements for the piano and are relatively easy to play. A great album that I'm sure has drawn many pianists and other musicians to the VGM and Final Fantasy soundtrack genre. (9/10)

Written by Jared

Let me start of by saying this: this is perhaps my favorite album of all time. That being said, let me discuss why. Lets start from the beginning. The album starts with the wonderful theme, "Tina." This is one of the most beloved pieces of music in a game ever composed, and this piano arrangement breathes new life into an already great piece. The emotion here is outstanding, and this theme represents many emotions at the same time, each one distinct from the last. Next we have "Gau," a suprisingly good theme. Here is where the diversity starts kicking in; the zany "Cefca" is next. This track is crazy and evil, representing the craziest villian in the Final Fantasy series, Cefca. This really adds a lot of variety to the album. There are several different types of tracks, from emotional tracks such as "Tina" and "Celes," to fun, crazy tracks such as "Cefca" and "Johnny C. Bad." One of the more unique tracks is the mysterious "The Mystic Forest." It has a very strange atmosphere to it that few songs manage to have. Luckily, there is another track in this same album that holds that same quality: "The Mystery Train." Both of these make up the creepy part of the album. There are, of course, the more peaceful, relaxed pieces as well. "Kids Run Through the City Corner" and "The Coin Song" represent this the best. Last but not least, you have to have the loud, crazy tracks. Songs "The Decisive Battle" and "Johnny C. Bad" won't disappoint in that category. As you see, there is a huge variety in the tracks presented in this wonderful album. To me, there is not a single track that disappoints. Each one has its own special quality that makes it unique from the others. Best of all, each track is played very expressively, perfectly conveying the emotions present very well. This is one of the most perfect albums you will find out there. (10/10)

Written by Tim

What can I say? If it weren't for this album along with the Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version, I probably never would've gotten into game music nearly as much as I am. There is truly something for everyone on this album. If you enjoy melancholy tunes, you'll definitely shed a few tears while listening to "Celes" "Coin Song," and (to a lesser extent) "Gau." The frenetic part of you will enjoy the powerful rendition of "The Decisive Battle," while the fun side will get a kick out of "Cefca," "Spinach Rag," and "Johnny C Bad." These great pieces accompany the beautifully mysterious "Phantom Forest" and the enchanting "Tina" to make one outstanding album. I could live without "Waltz de Chocobo" and "Stragus," but two less-than-stellar pieces do not make a bad album. (9/10)

Average of Summary Scores: 9/10