King Records (1st Edition); Nihon Falcom (2nd Edition)
November 5, 1990; December 22, 1999
Buy Used Copy
Preprimer is an album of relaxing arrangements of Falcom classics by Michio Fujisawa. Though dubbed ‘new age music’, it is more classical music with its piano quintet focus, though there are some elements of electronic manipulation and reverb. The resultant album is one of the most technically accomplished and emotionally satisfying in Falcom’s discography.
The maturity of Michio Fujisawa’s arrangements are particularly exemplified by the third track. Fujisawa transforms Ys‘s “The Morning Grow” into an authentic mazurka. On a technical level, much of the arrangement is dedicated to the repetition of several elements from the original in triple metre. However, on an emotional level, it is incredibly effect since there is an emotional build-up throughout and a tremendous melancholy expressed in the falling string runs. The contrast between the radiant piano work and feathery pizzicato strings also inspires remarkable imagery.
Michio Fujisawa demonstrates incredible mastery of both the piano and string quartet throughout the album. For example, it’s impressive how he uses the contrasts between the timbres of rich arco strings and light feathery piano to colour the interpretation of Sorcerian‘s “Opening”. Ys‘ “Palace” meanwhile is remarkable for being almost entirely piano-focused. Despite the fragility of the underlying progressions, a particularly ethereal quality is created through the lavish use of pedalling that seems to perfectly encapsulate the tone of the original music.
If there is one criticism of Preprimer, it is that it sometimes verges too much on oversentimentality. The performance of the opener “European Legend” is so gushing that some may find it unnatural and overwhelming. The arrangement is one of the more subtle on the album and perhaps it should have been interpreted with equal restraint. Of course, others will find it incredibly engrossing and emotional eight minute listen nonetheless. For better or worse, Michio Fujisawa ensures a very striking entrance.
Preprimer should be the album of choice for those looking for relaxing interpretations of Falcom music. Though sometimes Michio Fujisawa goes over-the-top, his arrangement and performance is generally very mature; he doesn’t rely on simplistic formulaic approaches here, like he did in Ys’ Piano Collections, and clearly feels liberated to offer much more expansive and experimental pieces. The majority of the arrangements fit well with the original compositions and come together to form a splendid healing session overall.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.