I’ve stated in one of my previous reviews that the world needs more piano music. Well, since we happen to need that and more Fire Emblem album reviews, it would only make sense I would follow up my if ~Hitori Omou~ / Renka review with Fire Emblem Music Collection: Piano ~Faith & Engagement~. I should note that I am both favorably biased towards piano music (I played piano in college) as well as very critical, so you can expect a fair revi— wait a second, “Lost in Thoughts All Alone” is on this album? Never mind folks, this is the best piano arranged album of 2017!
While it might seem that I’m jesting with such a claim (just a tiny bit), this album does offer several attractive arrangements that make it a worthy addition to any music lover’s home. Take “Encounter” for example: a lonely, yet full-bodied track that arranger-performer Keiko delivers to her audience. Once the introductory section of the piece passes (0:00-0:13), we are presented with a beautiful, lyrical, and solitary middle-high playing register section that gently tugs at the heartstrings. This loneliness is only for a moment, as “Encounter” fleshes out towards 1:31 with lower register chords/arpeggios. Whenever I hear melancholic piano playing between two registers like in “Encounter,” I’m always reminded of an intimate duet between family, friends, or lovers. This is especially true when the duet is between instruments, such as in the very next track.
“Father’s Back” is a very sorrowful duet between pianist Keiko and flautist Yumiko. The performance between the two on this track is delicate, emotional, and strangely resolute. While sadness encompasses the majority of this arrangement, there’s an interesting moment starting at 1:54 that happily ends the section (and again at the end of the piece). I’m very curious what’s happening when the original version of this track is playing during its FE game. Regardless, I found this track bittersweet and handled very well between the performers.
Of course, there’s more than just piano and flute on this album. There’s also a violin! One of the more notable tracks that I found the violinist Yui electrifyingly amazing on is — to no one’s surprise — the last track, “Lost in Thoughts All Alone.” I must say, this arrangement is very amusing, as the piece starts very softly only to invigorate your ears at 0:24 with powerful piano playing and lyrically soothing violin playing. Yui’s technique is captivating, allowing her violin to truly weep, especially in sections around 2:35. However, the treat in this arrangement is, after vigorous playing, the music pulls back a bit to introduce a soft section with tasteful pizzicato at 4:15. With arrangements like this, I doubt “Lost in Thoughts All Alone” will ever grow old. Wonderful!
Overall, for the rest of the tracks, you’re either getting a piano solo or a duet of some sort. You might recognize some tracks from familiar games (“Id ~ Serenity” from Fire Emblem Awakening or “Father’s Back” from Path of Radiance), but a good chunk of the arrangements are from original music in FE games that never made their way stateside. That won’t detract from your listening experience, though, as Keiko, Yui, and Yumiko provide excellent musicianship on each track in which they appear.
Having not played any of the Fire Emblem games (save for Birthright/Conquest), I lack context around where most of these arrangements originally played. Regardless, that doesn’t put a damper on my enjoyment of this pleasant album. If anything, it encourages me to check out more Fire Emblem games whenever time permits. However, to the meat and bones of it: would I recommend Fire Emblem Music Collection: Piano ~Faith & Engagement~? The better question: why are you still reading my review, and why haven’t you purchased this album yet?