Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections is an impressive CD. I listen to it less frequently than I do Kefka's Domain (FFVI OSV), but more frequently than the disappointing Grand Finale. A couple of these tracks are straightforward, unaltered piano renditions - like the simplistic stuff done for Dragon Quest VI on Piano. But when Uematsu experiments with new arrangements, his results are fascinating.
Take "Stragus", for example. For fun, set your CD player on "random play" the first time you hear this disk. Strago's theme - a quirky and eccentric one to start out with - has been redone so that you won't even recognize it until about halfway through. I don't know how to categorize the style of this arrangement, so I'll take a risk and call it pseudo-modern jazz. It's a great piece, loud and self-assured even in its weirdness, that shows off both Uematsu's willingness to take chances and the pianist's technical skill. In "The Decisive Battle" Uematsu knew he couldn't mimic the rich sound of this track on a solo piano, so he reworked it into a rolling, flowing, frenetic piece that cuts the melodic line into pieces and tosses them around until hurtling into an almost cacophonic climax. "Coin Song" I had to hear more than once before I recognized it. The blaring, annoying Castle Figaro music has been sweetened considerably and now evokes the tenderness, sadness, and dignity that marks the Figaro brothers' friendship.
The other tracks are just what you would expect - an eerie "Mystic Forest", the ironically bourgeois "Gau", the demented and witty "Cefca", etc. "Tina" starts off sounding like a Hollywood tearjerker but develops the passion of an emotional storm. Also present is my favorite version of "Celes" - quiet and appealing, and not as grating as the bombastic "operatic" piece on Grand Finale. It also has my least favorite "de Chocobo" - frivolous and too leisurely to be a proper "Waltz" anyway.
Overall, Final Fantasy VI Piano Collections is a must-have for a collector, and has perhaps a little more general appeal than the other FFVI CDs because hey, everybody likes some good piano.