Piano Collections Final Fantasy VI falls squarely in the middle of the series' piano arranged albums - less complex and creative than the best, but having more imagination and emotional impact than the worst. Even if not the creme de la creme of piano arrangements, it should be enough to satisfy FFVI fans less intent on piano virtuosity than on hearing their favorite themes from the game done once over.
Make that twice over - of the thirteen themes selected for arrangement, eight you'll also find featured in the orchestral album Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale. The overlap is a bit disappointing coming from a soundtrack with so many great themes, but on the flip side those eight shared themes do make up most of the album's standout tracks. "Terra" begins with such a lonely, melodramatic quality you can almost see the snow falling on a stark winter day, while the rolling accompaniment in the second half brings a sense of determination for the journey ahead. "The Mystic Forest" and "Kids Run Through The City Corner" are as lovely as you would expect, and even for someone who's generally not a huge fan of "Celes", its delicate arrangement and beautiful finale make an emotional almost-end to the album. (The producers made the odd decision of using the forgettable "Waltz de Chocobo" for the final track instead.)
That leaves five themes that aren't featured in Grand Finale, and one of them is a beauty. If you thought "Coin Song" had the quality of a tear-jerker in the original version, wait till you hear this piano arrangement. The theme itself is perfectly suited to piano, but arranger Reiko Nomura's added intro, accompaniment and finale really bring out the emotion in the piece. On the completely opposite side of the spectrum, "Johnny C Bad" benefits from Nomura's additions as well, even if it loses a fair amount of its energy without the jazzed-up percussion of the original. (For the ultimate arrangement of the piece, see the full instrumental version in Cafe SQ.)
The rest of the tracks are average Piano Collections fare - pleasant and passable but not likely to leave a strong impression. Whether due to the plainness of those remaining tracks or a slightly homogeneous sound to the album as a whole, I find myself being less impressed with it than I am with such piano collections as FFVIII and FFXIII, despite liking FFVI's original soundtrack infinitely more. Still, the arrangements that do stand out I'd be loathe to be without, and for fans content with a nicely done piano album if not the best of the series, Piano Collections Final Fantasy VI is worth seeking out.