Is one Kingdom Hearts Piano Collections album not enough for you? Lucky for you then, Square Enix has released a second album dedicated to piano arrangements from the series, and this time it’s admittedly more diverse in its selections from the series. That’s right, you’ll not only be hearing tracks from Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, and Chain of Memories, all of which were featured on the first album, but also one track each from Birth by Sleep and 358/2 Days.
As usual, all music is composed by Yoko Shimomura, but there is actually a surprising number of performers this time around. There are four pianists covering just 9 tracks, with each performing about two track a piece. Also of note is the fact that the subtitle for this album, “Field & Battle” shows a shift in focus to some of the less iconic themes from the series, which I think is a good thing.
Find out what’s here in our review of Piano Collections Kingdom Hearts: Field & Battle after the jump!
The album opens with “Scherzo Caprice on a Theme of Never Land” from Birth by Sleep. I’m sure most fans will be looking forward to this track the most, as the game was just released in Japan and doesn’t even have a confirmed date elsewhere in the world. It acts as sort of a preview in that sense, and combines elements from the Never Land field and battle themes. It opens with lots of energy and bass, although I prefer the majestic section towards the middle with its beautiful arpeggios and airy melody that creates the sensation of flight. It’s a great opening track, and a great preview into what Shimomura has done with Birth by Sleep.
Next up is “Sinister Sundown” from Chain of Memories, although “Roxas” is mixed in as well. You may remember this track from the Square Enix Music Sampler CD Vol. 4 that we reviewed last year. The version here is nearly a minute longer than the one on the sampler, and the stabbing melody bounces about and is hard to pin down. It’s then on to the playful “Wonderland’s Surprises” from the original Kingdom Hearts. This piece is one of my favorites here with its lighthearted nature and nimble handwork from pianist Miwa Sato. I also enjoyed “Monstrous Monstro,” a classy piece that sounds like it’d fit right in with some of the classics in a orchestral concert hall.
“Lazy Afternoons” is the most mellow piece on the album, and is rather relaxing, although it’s followed by the darkest tracks on the album. “Night of Fate” is from the original Kingdom Hearts, and is quite epic. Arranger Natsumi Kameoka and pianist Masanobu Shinoda really nail the dynamics here, constantly shifting the piece back and forth between quieter, more foreboding sections and explosions of sound. It’s certainly my favorite track on the album. “Hollow Bastion” sports the same kind of vibe with rapid, repetitive sections that build a lot of tension. The track doesn’t hit you over the head with hard or fast playing, but rather slowly simmers up a brooding atmosphere. Later, “Medley of Conflict” somehow manages to cram 4 different battle themes from Kingdom Hearts II into a single track, and it even flows quite nicely despite all that’s going on!
The final track, “Musique pour la tristesse de Xion” is from Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, and combines the Xion and Xion battle theme into a beautiful, fluttering piece of music. It slowly builds upon itself, gaining in intensity over the length of the track, but I don’t really get a “battle” vibe out of the piece with its pretty opening and determined ending. It’s a great piece of music, and a great way to close out the album.
While I can’t really find anything to complain about as far as the music is concerned, I suppose the question you’re going to have to ask yourself is whether or not 37 minutes of music is worth the 2,500 yen price tag on this album. It’s a hefty price to pay for 9 tracks, but it really is a treat to hear music from Birth by Sleep and 358/2 Days on piano. Even the tracks from the other Kingdom Hearts titles that were covered extensively on the first Piano Collections Kingdom Hearts album are great.
What do you make of their “Field & Battle” approach to this album? Do you think the price tag is too high, or is it worth the cost to hear music from Birth by Sleep and 358/2 Days?Tags: Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Piano, Piano Collections, Reviews, Square Enix, Yoko Shimomura