Another Suikoden album, you cry incredulously as you shake your fist to the heavens or rebuke hell (depending on whether you enjoy or dislike the series' music.) That's right, this series which has only spawned three games and two gaidens already counts its soundtracks in the double digits, even without the name Falcom attached to it. For the most part, I've enjoyed them, with the exception of the two vocal albums. It's no surprise to me, then, that Genso Suikoden Piano Collection ~Avertunerio Antes Lance Mao~ presented itself as a thoroughly enjoyable and laid-back collection of some of my favorite pieces from the series.
The title track, Avertunerio Antes Lance Mao, which fans of the first game will recognize as the ending vocal theme, takes an interesting twist with a sometimes melancholy, sometimes upbeat rendition. Then we have tracks such as An Old Irish Song, also from the first game, which is accompanied by soprano sax played by Mantell Nonoda, who does a much better job here than he did in either of the two vocal albums, probably due to the style of the compositions here.
I particularly enjoyed the piano/guitar tag-team rendition of an already-favorite piece, Currents. It's not all that long, but the acoustic guitar adds a lovely edge to the piano. The album continues in this vein with the bongo/piano combo for Theme of Sadness and the guitar/piano Orrizonte.
Freedom Again is a short piece, but an absolutely beautiful piano-only rendition of the theme from GS 2. And what soft GS album would be complete without Moonlit Night Theme? Simply put, pianist Shusei Murai does an excellent job with arguably the most touching piece from any of the Suikoden games.
The only track that I wasn't all that fond of was, surprisingly enough, one of my favorite tracks from Genso Suikoden III, Searching for a Hero of Long Ago, and that's only because I was expecting something more from the arrangement here. It's not that either the composition or the performance was poor, but just that I'm used to this piece being slightly faster-paced, and the slowdown threw me off. A minor complaint and one that shouldn't mar the album for most people.
I truly did enjoy this album, unable to find one poorly composed or performed track. The only gripe I'd have is that it is by no means a strictly piano album, ala Tokimeki Memorial Piano Collections or any of the Final Fantasy Piano Collections. Nevertheless, this is a small complaint to level against an otherwise excellent album, and really isn't much of a complaint as much as it is a side note. I personally feel that the addition of other instruments to the piano pieces is an asset rather than a detractor.
If you enjoy Genso Suikoden music or simply piano albums, I highly recommend Avertunerio Antes Lance Mao. It's worth the pickup, and is one of those select few game music albums that stands on its own, alternating between lovely piano sonatas, nice jazz combos, and guitar/percussion accompaniments.
Reviewed by: Damian Thomas