First released as a special edition bonus CD in Japan for purchasing Collection of SaGa, this five-track EP got an enhanced digital version with a sixth track tagged on for good measure. Before delving into this short album’s content, I urge even the most ardent collector of physical media to consider going digital-only with this one. The digital version gets you extra music, and it’s an order of magnitude cheaper than the going price for this CD on secondhand markets.
Some of you may be wondering, “what is a piano trio?” Despite how it may sound, it is not three pianos playing at once. In fact, there are a variety of piano trios. Generally, it includes one piano and two other instruments. In jazz and modern music, this can be just about anything. But, classically speaking, the piano trio is piano, violin, and cello. For this album, the violin parts are performed by the venerable Atsuki Yoshida, the cello by Kirin Uchida, and the piano by Ryo Sonoda (who also arranged tracks 2-4).
The five tracks that make up the Piano Trio segment are all brilliant in their own right. Even “Eat the meat” gets funky with some dissonant harmony and complex time signatures. However, my favorite track is decidedly “Struggle to the Death,” the infamous boss battle music from Final Fantasy Legend II. Atsuki Yoshida simply knocks it out of the park, though all three instrumentalists shine throughout this nearly 4-minute ode to one of the best battle themes I know.
A special shout-out goes to “Oasis,” the sole track from Final Fantasy Legend III. Hearing Ryuji Sasai’s playful town melody grow into something this fun and fascinating is a treat. Arranger Shingo Nishimura made excellent use of the piano on this one and wasn’t afraid to dip between light and dark tones. Meanwhile, the cello does some very interesting work to color in the gaps.
Finally, there is that digital-only bonus track, “Across the SaGa.” If you’ve played Collection of SaGa, you may recognize it as a special menu theme. This version appears to be a high-quality synth arrange by Kenji Ito himself. It serves as a lovely medley, though I find it less thrilling than the Piano Trio tracks.
So, that’s the deal. SaGa1·2·3 Piano Trio Arrangement Tracks + Across the “SaGa” is a short and sweet arrange EP, and I am very glad it came into being. It’s a fairly easy find across multiple digital music services (including iTunes), so feel free to look it up and make the purchase!