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Final Fantasy X Piano Collection
A subtle, touching CD that exhibits the power of Nobou Uemastu’s score.
Final Fantasy X Piano Collection
By Ridwan Khan
When Final Fantasy X was released, a number of people noticed (or complained) that the soundtrack was subtler than previous Final Fantasy games. While this is true to some degree, it didn't make the OST or, by extension, the piano collection any less powerful.
Most Final Fantasy games since IV have had a Piano Collection CD, one where selected tracks from the OST were arranged for rendition on the piano. With a soundtrack as reliant on piano-based themes as Final Fantasy X, I thought the progression to a piano CD would be unremarkable. However, after a couple of listens, the Final Fantasy X Piano Collection does an incredible job with Final Fantasy X's score.
01 - To Zanarkand
The main theme of Final Fantasy X, in the game it was also performed on the piano. There isn't much change for this song from the OST to the Piano Collection CD. However, as beautiful as this song is, that is not a bad thing.
02 - Tidus' Theme
The original version of Tidus' theme captured his nativity, his boyish nature with a simple melody. This piano version takes the melody and builds on it well. A piano can help give any melody a sad, elegant beauty and this track is no exception.
03 - Besaid Island
On the OST, Besaid Island's theme was one of the most wonderful songs, as it captured the spirit of the island and the opening of a new adventure. It definitely ranks as one of my favorite OST songs in Final Fantasy history. The problem with the piano rendition is that is different from the OST version. To be charitable, it is a difficult proposition to translate the OST song to a piano. That being said, the piano version seems to borrow from the OST song, both in spirit and, to a much smaller extent, melody. The piano version itself is lush on its own and is one of my favorites on the CD, but one has to listen hard to find the original Besaid theme in it.
04 - Song of Prayer
Song of Prayer is another track that you have to "squint" to find the original song in. Originally, the Song of Prayer was a wordless vocal theme in Final Fantasy X, a song that had an importance in the plot, but it really doesn't have the impact it did on the OST, since you can only catch hints, bits and pieces of it. Within the last minute or so it seems to fall into the fold of the original, but throughout most of the song it's hard to hear the song's roots.
05 - Traveling Theme
In the game, the Traveling Theme featured a melody on piano, with some interesting percussion. Given that, the Piano Collection CD remains very faithful to the OST (unlike the previous tracks), lacking (of course) the drums.
06 - Rikku's Theme
On the OST, Rikku's theme matched her bubbly personality perfectly. This track captures that lighthearted feeling as well and, as I mentioned earlier, the piano even makes it elegant. For fans of previous Piano Collection CDs, this track will recall those old CDs, especially that of Final Fantasy VI.
07 - Guadosalam
The OST version of this track is very percussion oriented, calling to mind perhaps the Middle East or South Asia. Unfortunately, this doesn't translate well to the piano. This version is able to catch hints of the OST version, but this is another track that is substantially different from its OST version.
07 - Thunder Plains
This song follows its OST cousin closely, as they are both piano based. The piano version starts. Like Rikku's theme, it's an upbeat, fast-paced tune that recalls older Final Fantasy games and their Piano Collection CDs.
08 - Attack
This track has a great fluidity, in how the notes are hit while the song itself is very quick paced with a variety of sounds. This is another really good track on the CD. It's really just fun to listen to.
10 - Via Purifico
This is a song has an interesting melody. It's obviously, in tone and pacing, a dungeon song. It does a very good job of conveying the feeling of trouble, a burdened heart.
11 - Suteki Da Ne?
This is the main vocal theme of Final Fantasy X; as such, the melody is weaved throughout through out the game. Personally, I believe this song should have been done with the piano and someone singing the lyrics. Unfortunately, it is only piano. However, the song is still moving.
12 - Yuna's Determination
A slower track, this track has a few powerful moments, but is probably the most forgettable track on the CD.
13 - People of the North
Besides Besaid Island, this track was my favorite in Final Fantasy X. As such, the Piano Collection version is a mixed bag. It makes a very sparse version of a lush song. However, that very sparseness makes it quite beautiful. When it goes along with the original's melody, it can become quite booming and powerful.
18 - Decisive Battle
Like Attack, this is a fast-paced battle theme. However, it doesn't have quite the variety of sound that Attack does. It also doesn't sound as action packed. Like People of the North, it is a little sparse when compared with the piano version of Attack or its own OST predecessor.
19 - Ending Theme
This last track is very subtle - it has a variety of sounds and incorporates the game's themes. It is played well; Aki Kuroda obviously knows the power of the songs. However, overall, due to the variety of themes it is best listened to on the OST CD.
Overall, the Final Fantasy X Piano Collection shifts between closely following an OST songs and reinterpreting them. However, taken on its own, the CD is a moving showcase for where Nobuo Uematsu's works can be taken.