Sega Piano Nocturne
Sega Piano Nocturne
January 26, 2005
Buy at CDJapan
Following the precedent set by companies such as Square Enix and Konami, Sega released their own piano arrangement album in 2005. Rather than dedicate it to a specific project, though, te producers chose eight themes from across the Sega line to be interpreted. The resultant album features both the piano arrangements and their originals. Let’s take a closer look…
The album opens with an interpretation of one of the most emotional themes from Shenmue. The first 45 seconds conform to the general expectation of piano arrangement albums — essentially offering a soft and sentimental rendition of the melody against simple arpeggios. Fortunately, the subsequent development sections embody the ‘nocturne’ concept of the album more with dusky nuances and jazz influences. The result is familiar and understated, but with substance too. Subsequent tracks such as Sakura Taisen 3‘s end credits theme and Space Harrier‘s “Main Theme” maintain the same feel with delicate melodies, simple harmonies, but effectual elaborations. It’s also surprising to see how Kiminori Atsuta manages to transform the once abrasive “Passing Breeze” into a comforting and personal ballad.
There is nevertheless a fair amount of variety in the piano arrangements. The lounge jazz influence of Phantasy Star Online‘s ending vocal theme is really elaborated upon here and the final result is nostalgic and relaxing. “I Just Smile” from Burning Rangers is written in much the same way, but has a slightly more romantic tone. On the opposite end of the spectrum, S.D.I.‘s “System Down” puts listeners on edge with its irregular rhythms and jagged motifs, but is very brief and unpianistic too. It’s the only truly bad arrangement, but it’s not really acceptable given there are just eight pieces in total. The piano section ends on a serene note with a straightforward rendition of NiGHTS‘ theme tune. The arrangement is far from remarkable, but the expressive performance makes it a major highlight nevertheless.
While there aren’t that many piano arrangements on the disc, Wavemaster compensates by providing the original tracks as well. It can be really pleasant to revisit the Asian contemplations of “Shenfa”, funky riffs of Space Harrier, or powerful progressions of “System Down”. Note, however, these are digest versions and hence tend to be shorter than the versions published previously. This is especially significant in the vocal themes “DREAMS DREAMS”, “The Future”, “I Just Smile”, and “Can Still the Light” given the importance of the development sections. Still, this album still doubles up quite well as a compilation of fan favourite.
Sega Piano Nocturne is an inspired concept, but the final result is quite sparing. Eight piano arrangements just aren’t enough to commemorate Sega’s giant catalog, especially when most arrangements are simple and similar. Still, Kiminori Atsuka offers mainly expressive arrangements and performances, so what is offered is still mostly enjoyable. Overall, a decent purchase but not quite enough.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.