Romancing SaGa 2- Eternal Romance is a masterpiece by a true musical genius, Kenji Ito, who composed and arranged the other SaGa games' OSVs, as well as Romancing SaGa 3 - Windy Tale. Although in my opinion his synthesized works are mediocre, when it comes to arranging and conducting live ensembles and orchestras, there is no one better - even Nobuo Uematsu. His live music reaches into you and makes you feel the music in a way that is completely undescribable on paper (or web page, as the case may be). It has to be heard to be believed.
The CD starts out with "Preface to the SaGa ~ Prologue~", a stirring, emotional piece. It begins with mournful combination of violins and a chime, then adds an oboe. The effect of this is very somber and moody. A harp and lute are played throughout the track, along with various violin and flute solos, which frequently merge into the main melodies of the song. There is also a haunting piano played during the song as well, and the track itself ends with a light woodwind/string arrangement.
The real highlight of this CD, or of arranged soundtracks in general, in my opinion, is "Colors". It is simply the greatest track I've ever heard *anywhere*. The song begins with a light harp and string movement, then, almost immediately, a male vocalist begins to sing, accompanied soon after by a female vocalist. They sing together - as if talking in some kind of surrealistic language that nobody but themselves can understand - and thus the song takes on a dramatic aurora that is very moving. The track mostly uses the string and woodwind sections of the excellent orchestra that Kenji Ito brought together for this album, but there is liberal use of the harp, with dramatic, punctuating bell chimes every once in a while. A beautiful piano solo of the melody is played four minutes into the track, then accompanied by the woodwind and string sections again. A final exchange of vocals by the male and female singer bring the song down from its climax, as a lone piano solo slowly fades out.
The background sound in the first two minutes of "Nereid Song" is the sound of water on the beach, which adds to the aura of the piece. All the same instruments are there (strings, clarinets, oboes, a piano), coming and going and blending together in melodies that are so beautiful, your soul will feel revived.
"Exotic Dusk" is more classical Japanese fair, with plucking strings and wailing flutes, reminiscent of "Dragon Quest: Jipangu World". It's an extremely well composed, traditional Japanese style song, one of the disc's many many highlights. "Embracing you in my arms" begins with a heart-wrenching violin solo, which is joined by another violin to create a wonderful melody. Add a piano and light percussion, then end it with a string and harp accompaniment, and what you have is an immensely stirring piece that grabs you by your heart-strings and plays them for all their worth.
The final track, "Preciousness ~Epilogue~", incorporates part of the melody from the opening track, and adds a chorus of children and male choral vocalists before kicking into full light-symphonic beauty. It seems that every instrument in the orchestra makes an appearance at least once in this song. A piano and female choral vocalist are added as the children and male chorus members begin to sing lyrics that are playfully peaceful and elegant. All the vocalists and choral members come together at the end of the song, singing along in English and Japanese lyrics. The poeticism may be a little off, but the meaning and emotion put into the words is stirring. The track finishes in a bevy of heavy light bells and chimes. The ending drama of the piece is palpable, and you can feel from the inside out as if you've just finished a grand journey, and that it's all ending extremely happily. I can almost see the castle in my mind. I absolutely adore this track, almost as much as "Colors". The CD finishes even better than it begins.
If you like Romancing SaGa 3 Windy Tale, then get this CD! Certainly, for the most part the music is low-tempo, slow, and somewhat sluggish compared to its fellow arranged Square soundtracks. Which means it's great music to relax to, fall asleep with, or to just feel without having to affect anyone outside your own mind. I don't see how anybody, unless they're addicted to Konami speed metal or booming symphonic, couldn't like this CD. It has just as much drama - although in a different way - and because it touches you in such a personally emotional way, it is just as effective.