This is a very cool selection of music from Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II (J), a re-rendering of Nintendo blips and blops into true instruments. That's right, this is music from a video game (two, actually), being performed by a full orchestra. The Tokyo Symphonic Orchestra, to be exact. And taped in front of a live audience, complete with clapping and applause. They take their games seriously in Japan, they don't mess around.

All tracks are originally composed by the wizard himself, Nobuo Uematsu, the true star of the Final Fantasy series. Without his talent and greatness Squaresoft would be living in a cardboard box in a cramped Tokyo alleyway. The orchestral arrangements are completed by Katsuhisa Hattori and Takayuki Hattori, who did an absolutely splendid job.

In order to enjoy this CD, try to forget that it's a pretentious exhibition from a video game (two). Or if you're a fan, revel in it.

Track list:

  1. Scene 1, 4 minutes, 10 seconds.
    The overworld theme to Final Fantasy II. Haunting melody. Pretty simple, but inspiring.
  2. Scene 2, 5 minutes.
    Behemoth battle music from Final Fantasy II. The drums are annoying. This is the weakest track of the suite.
  3. Scene 3, 6 minutes, 3 seconds.
    Begins with the cool title theme from Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy IV, slips into the familiar town melody of Final Fantasy, then finishes off with music from Matoya's Cave.
  4. Scene 4, 5 minutes, 14 seconds.
    Finale from Final Fantasy II. A combination of the overworld theme (Scene 1) and the Prelude.
  5. Scene 5, 8 minutes, 10 seconds.
    Begins with an original piece by Takayuki Hattori, then the famous Final Fantasy Prelude Theme. It's present in the whole series, excepting the airy Final Fantasy VIII (Update: Clone has set me straight on this - the prelude does in fact appear in Final Fantasy VIII, just less obviously so). This one might be a little bit different from the version that you're familiar with because it was arranged before Nobuo Uemtasu made his own rendition. Leads into the theme from The Temple of Fiends, then finishes with a slightly different Final Fantasy title melody (Scene 3).
  6. Scene 6, 5 minutes, 3 seconds.
    A conglomeration of cave / dungeon tunes from both featured games. Starts with music from Gurgu Volcano (FFI), then the creepy dungeon theme (FF2), finishing with the Star Wars-esque empire theme (FF2).
  7. Scene 7, 5 minutes, 30 seconds.
    Melody of the Resistance Headquarters of Final Fantasy II. Quite an achievement, considering the original is only like four bars of music repeated over and over, and eventually got a little annoying. Sort-of reminiscent of the theme from The Godfather. Okay, not really. Its similarity to Scene 1 makes it a nice finale to the disc.

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