Warning: Rambling post incoming. Probably no need to really read it! (I'm pretty bored tonight!)
I actually was fairly pleased with the primal tracks and couldn't care less about the piano tracks, though from the other (limited in number) comments I've seen on message boards, it sounds like I might be one of the few.
I walk into this with a lot of bias towards and against the FFXIV ARR soundtrack as a whole, however. Basically, I find the majority of the OST just kind of dull, and I can't really bring myself to ever put it on if I am at all focusing on the music.
See, until a couple months ago I had played FFXIV pretty consistently since launch. I'm sure I'll be back for patch 2.5. Anyway, in game the music seemed perfectly fine in the background, but once I tore it out of its context, most of it just didn't appeal to me. My friend and I (stubborn mules that we are, still liking to listen to CDs over digital pretty darn often... still buying physical copies of anything we can) exchange music mix discs with each other 1-2 times a year. Since our tastes are often very different in both games and music we often get to experience some new tunes we'd never have otherwise heard, and once in awhile it spurs us on to buy one of the soundtracks (Thanks, Tom... I owe you for finding me the Opoona, Cladun, and Zwei OSTs!) Years ago I made him an FFXI mix, as I played that game for... well... too many years. (The mix occured pre-Abyssea for anyone in the know). I figured since I had moved on to FFXIV I should try to make a mix from that... but I couldn't do it. I could not fill 80 minutes, or even close! Aside from Answers and most of the primal themes (which I do like a lot aside from Ifrit and maybe Leviathan), I only managed to come up with around 3 other songs I cared enough about to muster any amount of excitement for the project. He lives in CA and I'm in NJ, so we only see each other about twice a year... and since we ALWAYS listen to each others' mixes and rate and comment on each song, I really MUST be excited about my own mixes. Thus, instead of settling on 80 minutes of FFXIV: ARR, I ditched the idea completely.
So onto this album we're supposed to be talking about...
The piano tracks were already at an extreme disadvantage for me going into this album. Then there is the fact I'm not usually in love with solo piano (though there are exceptions). Piano + violin, bring it on! Piano + sax, I'm there! Piano + flute, you bet! Piano + bongos... well you get the point. I LOVE piano when it's working together beautifully with 1-2 other instruments. But JUST piano... it has to be a perfect song and a perfect arrangement for my weirdo tastes. Anyway, I listened through these tracks once and predictably they just hold no interest... less than the OST versions.
So now onto the primals. As stated, I have a soft spot for them, other than Ifrit and to a degree Leviathan.
It was not convenient for me to attend Fanfest, so all I had seen of the concert was a couple of the performances in a low quality Youtube video (Titan and Moggle Mog... which, BTW, I resent the exclusion of). I didn't care for what I saw so I was worried for the tracks on this album, but the quality of the recording was so bad I was hoping that was a big part of my discontent. Once I got the album I was pleasantly surprised.
Ifrit - Blegh, no need. I wasn't even sure I was listening to Primal Judgment here... not that I ever listened to the OST version to have it fresh in my brain.
Garuda - I enjoyed it, from the cheesy speaking to the extra, more pronounced vocals. I probably like the OST version a bit more, but I'm always good with a change of pace sometimes.
Titan - Love the OST version, love this one. What fun!
Leviathan - All right. OST version might be a bit better, but only slightly... and it's not a track I loved to begin with,
Ramuh - OST version is one of my favorites, and there was something about this that just didn't capture the charms of the original. Part of that is due to the missing opening. I really don't think they botched this track, but I think I'm almost always going to choose the OST version.
Shiva - There is a lot of hate for this song in the FFXIV community, but I really like it a lot. With clearer vocals, and added oomph this version is THE version for me.
Honestly, I'm just so happy with Titan and Shiva that I give the whole primals section a pass.
Now note: I didn't really analyze the compositions anywhere on this album. And I don't mean to. I'm not really music literate in the least. I could never actually review a soundtrack since I'm such a simpleton when it comes to music (OK, I lied. I tried a few times over a dozen years ago. My reviews sucked!) I know what I like when I hear something and I usually can't even explain why. It's all in how the music makes me feel and probably ends up having little to do if something is even skillfully composed (I usually can't tell, haha!)
So if I can't really analyze the music, why write I rambling post? So... very... bored tonight! And more than anything I just wanted to say "Hey, there is someone out here that does like the primal section". As for the piano section, if it's your cup of tea, that's great! I'm glad you found something here to enjoy!