Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections
Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections
DigiCube (1st Edition); Square Enix (2nd Edition)
December 3, 2003; May 10, 2004
Buy at CDJapan
When Square skipped over a Piano Collections project for Final Fantasy VII, fans were confused and saddened. After all, the Piano Collections arrangements were always magnificent, and Final Fantasy VII is (arguably) the most beloved title in the series. However, after more than seven years since its original release, Final Fantasy VII was finally granted a Piano Collections. Not saying that this is a bad album, I felt that it could have been better. But, I can blame all that on anticipation.
1) Tifa’s Theme
This track, which is less difficult to play than others, doesn’t quite match up to other gems such as “Fighting” and “Gold Saucer” in terms of excitement and conspicuousness. But then again, “Tifa’s Theme” isn’t supposed to — this arranged version is a sweet, relaxing piano arrangement that fulfils its purpose excellently: to provide the listener with a soft, relaxing image. The more advanced pianist will find “Tifa’s Theme” easy to master, as it is quite a simplistic arrangement.
2) Final Fantasy VII Main Theme
I was thrilled to discover this track on the tracklist for the Piano Collections. Certain that I would be blessed with an emotional arrangement, much like the original, I listened to its contents eagerly, and was left somewhat insatiable. While Final Fantasy VII Main Theme” on the Piano Collections is nearly note-by-note to its original, it lacks the emotional vibe that it featured in the game. “Final Fantasy VII Main Theme”‘s primary fault is that it is a track that has been arranged one too many times. It would, of course, prove to be difficult to match up to such brilliant arrangements as the “Reunion Tracks.” All in all, I am dismayed by this arrangement.
3) Cinco de Chocobo
Inwardly I groaned when I listened to this track. Another Chocobo arrangement? Sure, the bright yellow birds are as lovable as can be, but the overused theme really bores me. “Cinco de Chocobo” is just a simple, quick, upbeat piano arrangement, created most likely for the sense of nostalgia. Though it is arranged and performed nicely, you’ll soon find yourself passing over this track, if not because there are better tracks on the CD, but rather due to the fact that we have heard it too many times before.
4) Ahead on Our Way
Like “Tifa’s Theme,” “Ahead on Our Way” is another relaxing, sweet tune. “Ahead on Our Way” stays true to the melody of the original, but it is pleasantly arranged with lovely harmonies. While “Ahead on Our Way” falls short to “Frontier Village Dali,” it outstrips “Kids Run Through the City Corner,” another enjoyable Piano Collections track. City themes’ nostalgic feel never fail on the piano, so it’s a good thing that this quiet little gem of an arrangement made it to the album.
“Fighting” was my least favorite battle track in Final Fantasy VII, and one of my least favorites in the series, therefore I was skeptic about the arrangement of it for the album. Nonetheless, not only is “Fighting” full of emotion and excellent use of dynamics, but it really gives you an accurate sense of place, too. Needless to say, “Fighting” is brilliant. Advanced pianists will discover that this is one piece that’ll take time to master.
6) Cosmo Canyon
The original “Cosmo Canyon” was slightly unpleasing, and not exactly first class stuff, yet I was pleasantly pleased with this arranged version. It is invigorating, heartfelt, and it captures the tribal essence of Cosmo Canyon perfectly. The harmony is excellent, deviating quite largely from the original’s bass and drum harmonies. In retrospect, “Cosmo Canyon” is probably the best arranged track on the album, although I still can’t bring myself to list the original amongst my favorites.
7) Gold Saucer
This is a delightful arrangement! Cute and bouncy, “Gold Saucer” is a nice change from the slower, more harmonic arrangements of the album. The excellent blend of staccato notes and pedal suspensions certainly convey the atmosphere of the Gold Saucer well. This is not one of the harder pieces to play, but “Gold Saucer” will delight any pianist who holds a love for simple tracks.
8) Farm Boy
“Farm Boy,” a sleepy track both originally and arranged, falls short on the CD for several reasons. Firstly, it follows up after quite an onslaught of slower, more relaxing and enjoyable smooth tracks such as “Tifa’s Theme,” “Final Fantasy VII Main Theme,” and “Ahead on Our Way.” Secondly, it is the track that stays closest to its original in terms of harmony. “Farm Boy” wasn’t one of the more popular tracks in the game, and could have easily been replaced by several other great tracks. It lacks in flamboyance and flair and spends much of its time reveling in its sleepy melody. But if you’re looking for an easy-to-master, lazy piece, then this one is the one for you. (6/10)
9) Rufus’ Welcoming Ceremony
I, for one, loved Rufus and the Turks, so I was pleased to see an arrangement of this track on the album. An excellently arranged march, “Rufus’ Welcoming Ceremony,” like the “Gold Saucer,” is easy on the ears because it deviates away from the popular soft arrangements that have graced this track. The harmony is played in the lower octaves, and the melody is quite loud, thus making this arrangement a powerful, loud, and impressive one.
This is an excellent fight theme from the game, and this arrangement upholds the elements which made the fights against Jenova so fitting. The mysteriousness, uncertainty of the Jenova entity, the alien attacks, and the ethereal power, are all kept. This track upholds all of the aforementioned emotions in its ability to convey a desperate, alien, and enigmatic feel. The track is short, but it fulfils much with its arpeggios and runs and powerful chords.
11) Aerith’s Theme
Although “Aerith’s Theme” is nearly unmatched in popularity, I found that I was never in love with the track. Though the piece can be performed in a very emotional and heartfelt way, the arrangement of the track fails to uphold the melancholy and heart-wrenching emotion that the original gave us. Much like “Final Fantasy VII Main Theme,” the disappointment might come from the fact that “Aerith’s Theme” has been arranged so many times that the track begins to lose its majesty. Perhaps Hamaguchi’s goal in the two tracks was simply to reinforce, by means of piano, the beauty of the original track without adding the great arranged harmonies that exist within other Piano Collections tracks.
12) One Winged Angel
Don’t let the overly slow and boring beginning disappoint you, as while the andante tempo of this version takes away the oppressiveness and omnipotence from the original, it still manages to convey the utter perfection of the score in itself. Though the arrangement never becomes faster, the excellent use of dynamics and accents, and the brilliant runs at the end will certainly add to the godlike element which Sephiroth brings. While the blood-pumping ability of battle arrangements such as “Fighting” is lacking in “One Winged Angel,” this is a good enough attempt, which really suits the album well.
13) Descendent of Shinobi
Yuffie’s theme was largely ignored in the game because of the success of Tifa’s and primarily “Aerith’s Theme,” but if you listen to anything on this album, make it this track. This quiet, inconspicuous gem of a piano score is brilliant in its lighthearted melody and cute harmony. Yuffie really comes to life in this golden little treasure of a track, a track that manages to convey her quirky personality with her kind-of cute disposition.
Unlike the Final Fantasy VIII Piano Collections or the Final Fantasy IX Piano Collections, the Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections album doesn’t feature many tracks that are better than on the Original Soundtrack. It’s perhaps Hamaguchi’s inability to experiment further that brings the album down somewhat. After six years of waiting for this CD, disappointment will unfortunately be unavoidable when listening to the album. However, it’s funny to note that the Final Fantasy VII Piano Collections album tracks which were less popular in the game, are actually better in the Piano Collections album than the tracks which were supposedly more popular in the game. The album has some rather disappointing arrangements, but then there are those brilliant arrangements that seem to make it all okay.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Jillian. Last modified on August 1, 2012.