How a piano album should be done.
Reader review by Dean Crowder
Piano Pieces 'SF2' ~ Rhapsody on a Theme of SaGa Frontier II is a collection of 18 piano and six orchestral arrangements from SaGa Frontier II. Masashi Hamauzu is a very talented composer when it comes to piano songs and it shows - more than ever - in this album.
Looking at the full title of the soundtrack might leave some of you wondering what the "Rhapsody" part means. Well, in addition to the 18 piano pieces, there are six tracks performed by an orchestra, in rhapsody form. In music, rhapsody basically means to follow a free-form style of composing and suggests improvisation. The best of these is track 23 ("Rhapsody 5"). It's an arrangement of "Praludium" and sounds amazing when done by a real orchestra. If you never liked this track before then you'll see it in a different light after hearing this.
To break up the piano part of the CD for you, tracks 1-9 are each done by a single piano player, while tracks 10-18 are done by two. These tracks, obviously, are more complex even though you don't really notice the two separate parts since they blend in as if being played by only one person. All the tracks are performed extremelly well and the arrangements themselves stick very close to the original compositions, which is a good thing.
As with most piano music, these tracks are very relaxing; they really make Hamauzu's compositions shine. I think that this album is much better than the Final Fantasy Piano Collections, mainly because of Hamauzu's music. Don't get me wrong, I love Uematsu's FF music, but I don't think it sounds as good in piano form.
Also worth mention is the packaging. The CD itself comes in a cloth sleeve, the case is made of cardboard with pictures of the performers and Hamauzu-san himself, and in the liner notes is complete sheet music for the 18 piano tracks. Not bad at all if you ask me.
There's really not much else to say. If piano music isn't your thing then this might not be that good of a buy. But if you're a fan of the original soundtrack (like me) or piano music in general then you'll highly enjoy this album.