20020220 - Music from Final Fantasy

[back cover]
Catalog Number: SSCX-10065/6 (reprint SQEX-10030/1)
Released On: May 9, 2002 (reprint July 22, 2004)
Composed By: Nobuo Uematsu
Arranged By: Nobuo Uematsu, Shiro Hamaguchi
Published By: DigiCube (reprint Square Enix)
Recorded At: Tokyo International Forum
Format: 2 CDs
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Disc One
01 - Tuning
02 - Liberi Fatali [FFVIII]
03 - Theme of Love [FFIV]
04 - MC-1
     - The Prelude
     - Final Fantasy I Main Theme
     - Motoya's Cavern
     - Elia, the Maiden of Water
     - Chocobo Theme
     - Rebel Army Theme
06 - MC-2
07 - Aerith's Theme [FFVII]
08 - Don't Be Afraid [FFVIII]
09 - Tina's Theme [FFVI]
10 - MC-3
11 - Dear Friends [FFV]
12 - Vamo'alla Flamenco [FFIX]
Total Time:

Disc Two
01 - MC-1
02 - At Zanarkand [FFX]
03 - Yuna's Decision [FFX]
04 - MC-2
05 - Love Grows [FFVIII]
06 - Suteki da ne [FFX]
07 - MC-3
08 - The Place I'll Return to Someday ~ Melodies of Life [FFIX]
09 - MC-4
10 - One-Winged Angel [FFVII]
11 - MC-5
12 - The Man with the Machine Gun [FFVIII]
Total Time:

The album opens with a perfect rendition of the thundering "Liberi Fatali", Uematsu's masterpiece from Final Fantasy VIII. The seventh track on the first disc is a beautiful rendition of "Aeris' Theme" from Final Fantasy VII; the strings meld with the piano notes in perfect harmony, and the light wind instruments give the song the depth it deserves, rather than the PlayStation MIDI synthesizer. The first disc also contains a wonderful arrangement of the Final Fantasy VI theme, also known as "Terra's Theme", and concludes with "Vamo' alla Flamenco", which is wonderfully orchestrated, retaining its Spanish tastes with a heavy acoustic guitar and percussion.

The second disc immediately hits you with what I feel is one of the most emotional and moving pieces of videogame music I've ever heard- "At Zanarkand", the stunning piano theme of Final Fantasy X. Though it sounds almost identical to the in-game piece, the composition itself is amazing. This second disc has two vocal pieces on it, "Melodies of Life" from FFIX and "Suteki da ne" of FFX. The disc closes with three thunderous tracks: "One Winged Angel" from FFVII, widely regarded as Uematsu's best piece, followed by "Man with the Machine Gun" and the album ends with the classic "Final Fantasy" theme. "One Winged Angel", although heavy on the brass, is an astounding piece and is amazing in orchestrated form. Though "Man with the Machine Gun" was originally a techno song with emphasis on synthesizer effects, the piece was just as good played by a live orchestra, though severely lacking in its bass beat. The closing with the classic Final Fantasy theme was only natural, and I found myself applauding with the thousands of spectators that filled my room with their applause after the conclusion of this wonderful concert.

In short, this amazing soundtrack is well worth the money of any game music fan. It contains classic Final Fantasy themes wonderfully reproduced by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and almost lets the listener become a part of the audience, as if it were February 20, 2002 all over again. Don't pass this one up; it's probably the best Final Fantasy arranged album ever made.

Reviewed by: Robert Bogdanowicz

For anyone who has actually wondered what it would be like to experience Final Fantasy music in a live orchestral setting, here it is. Recorded live by the Tokyo Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo's International Forum on February 20th of 2002, (hence the title) who would have guessed this concert would have made it to CD format?

Often, the live renditions of the chosen Final Fantasy themes stay mostly true to the original versions. This could spark or diminish a Final Fantasy fan's interest in this two-CD set; on one hand, the concert played it safe with the original arrangements, which with the chosen pieces are already beautiful... mostly. On the other, however, those seeking any re-arrangement of sorts and a new refreshing sound will be somewhat disappointed. While the original arrangements are no less than wonderful, the only truly new aspect here is the live feeling.

One particular nice touch was the presence of the original vocalists of "Melodies of Life" (Emiko Shiratori for Final Fantasy IX) and "Suteki Da Ne" (Rikki, for FFX), though "Eyes on Me" (FFVIII) should have deserved similar treatment with Faye Wong's voice. Instead, in its place is "Love Grows", the instrumental version/arrangement of 'Eyes On Me'. Some, such as "Final Fantasy I-III Medley" and Final Fantasy IV's "Theme of Love', were also brought to life out of their original MIDI form, and thus blended well with the rest of the album. The "FF I-III Medley" starts out with the FF Prelude, which I would have liked to hear just a bit more of, but the track is long as it is at over 12 minutes and also includes the famous Chocobo theme. One very noticeable difference is "Yuna's Decision", (FFX), which becomes purely a piano piece here, sounding very much like the FFX Piano Collections version. Finally, very fittingly, the concert's grand finale was "Final Fantasy", (not to be confused with the FF prelude), which starts out with strings and brass arrangement that makes a smooth transition into the arrangement of its MIDI counterpart.

In the mix of instrumental and vocal tracks, what would make this concert a more perfect blend than to add choral tracks? Predictably, said tracks happen to be "Liberi Fatali" (FFVIII) and "One Winged Angel" (FFVII). Again, the orchestral arrangements stay true to the original versions, however in both cases, the voices seem to be weaker than in the originals, whether in numbers or the voices themselves. Even so, what voices there are still do the job. And, quite obviously, the 'interlude' tracks (titled "MC1", "MC2", etc), which are just dialogue/interviews in Japanese, won't be of much interest for those not fluent in the language.

Even though these pieces were a great choice for a concert of this type, I for one would have chosen a few different ones - but a concert can only go on for so long. Despite the lack of actual innovation overall, the music is still wonderful and it makes this album rather enjoyable, especially for any Final Fantasy fan, and thus makes it a must for any Final Fantasy or Square soundtrack collection.

Reviewed by: Liz Maas