Piano Collections - Final Fantasy VII - Soundtrack Review

Swing and a Miss

Track Listing
Disc 1
1.Tifa's Theme
2.Final Fantasy VII Main Theme
3.Cinco De Chocobo
4.Ahead On Our Way
5.Those Who Fight
6.Valley of the Fallen Star
7.Gold Saucer
8.Farm Boy
9.Rufus's Welcoming Ceremony
11.Aerith's Theme
12.One-Winged Angel
13.Descendent of Shinobi
Total Playtime: 47:30
Nobuo Uematsu
Shiro Hamaguchi

   Being extremely fond of Uematsu's work on the Final Fantasy VII OST, I was excited to see how Hamaguchi's arrangement would turn out. What I got was a hit and miss collection. Most problems aren't with the music, but in some of Hamaguchi's choices. Seiji Honda does a wonderful job with the piano work on this collection, getting each piece as close to technically perfect as possible. Hamaguchi just didn't give Honda the best pieces to work with. With pieces like "Cinco de Chocobo" and "Gold Saucer," Honda did as good as could be expected.

   The soundtrack starts off with "Tifa's Theme," a light, flowing piece. While performed quite well, it was rather uninspiring. This pattern seems to follow the next few tracks as well. "Final Fantasy VII Main Theme" follows with another rather dull arrangement, devoid of emotion. "Cinco de Chocobo" seems to be one of the best chocobo themes to date, but I guess I've just heard too many rehashes of the theme for it to really excite me any longer. None of these tracks really offer anything special or exciting.

   Tracks four through six bring a few surprises. "Ahead on Our Way" did not stand out in the original OST, but with this arrangment, the song emerges with a fresh, distinctive sound. Looking at the tracklist, I never expected a battle theme to translate in the piano realm very well, but "Those Who Fight," also referred to as "Fighting," does just that. This piece shows a lot of energy and is one of a few to actually evoke emotion, which is quite unexpected for a battle theme on piano. This is one of the best works on the soundtrack. "Valley of the Fallen Star," also known as "Cosmo Canyon," is also pulled off very well, though it offers very little in terms of originality.

   The following three tracks are some of the worst picks for the piano collection. "Gold Saucer" and "Farm Boy" are boring. There is no emotion to either of these on the original OST, so I'm not really sure what Hamaguchi expected to happen with them on this compilation. Probably the most irratating piece on the whole collection is "Rufus's Welcoming Ceremony;" then again it was annoying on the OST as well. These will give your "next track" button a workout at least.

   Some surprises come near the end of this compilation. As the soundtrack winds down, we are treated to the shockingly pleasant "J-E-N-O-V-A." It's a quick, fast-paced listen, but it is very enjoyable. Up next is "Aerith's Theme," a staple of the FFVII soundtrack, hardly a surprise that it's on here. This track is as lovely as ever, but nothing really original. It's still the same as almost every other version of it out there. The next to last piece, "One-Winged Angel," was an interesting choice. The piano rendition of this track is amazing. I had many doubts as to hope this song would work on the piano, but Hamaguchi and Honda really pulled off a great version with this one. If only they had worked their magic with all of the other seemingly odd tracks on here.

   The closing track, "Descendent of Shinobi" seems like just a last minute addition to the collection. Once again, this is another track that would have been better replaced with something more entertaining. With all of the great pieces on the Final Fantasy VII OST, it's truly a shame that the piano collections didn't take better advantage of them. After waiting so long for this collection, this turned out to be a great disappointment.

Sound Quality
Production Value
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