Home Home

Final Fantasy VI
Grand Finale

Final Fantasy VI Grand Finale
NTT/Polystar PSCN-5004 (JPN)

Nobuo Uematsu

Arranged by
Shiro Sagisu and Tsuneyoshi Saito

1. Opening Theme - Tina 2. Cefca
3. The Mystic Forest 4. Gau
5. Milan de Chocobo 6. Troops March on
7. Kids Run through the City Corner
8. Blackjack 9. Relm 10. Mystery Train
11. Aria Di Mezzo Carratere

11 tracks 54:27

You don't find many supporters of Final Fantasy VI: Grand Finale in game music fandom. Even though it was the first arranged album many game music fans (including this one) bought and heard, it's treated with none of the nostalgic affection aficionados usually reserve for the work that introduced them to their favored hobby, but instead as a great opportunity wasted - a strange and disappointing arrangement of what many consider Uematsu's finest work. Me, I can see their argument - it's not quite what one would expect from an FF6 arranged version - but I think we got a pretty decent arrangement in Grand Finale as it is. Considerably better than "decent", in fact.

But it ain't a normal arrangement. Think of a track from the FF6 OSV you'd like to hear arranged. Okay, now think of one besides "Tina" or "Aria Di Mezzo Carattere". Chances are, it ain't in this album, which seems to go out of its way to sidestep the obvious choices for orchestral rendition. And the styles of the arrangements themselves are odd too - would you think of arranging the "Blackjack" airship theme like a Delta Airlines commercial? Or the first half of "Kids Run through the City Corner" like something out of a Godfather movie score? Or "Mystery [a.k.a. Phantom] Train" like background music for a train trip through Louisiana Cajun country on Halloween, with the second half of the trip taking place in the dining car (a very pigeonholed but accurate description)? It's odd. It's odd all around.

What's weirder - the approach works. The disc's gambit depends upon taking the original, basic compositions in a whole new direction - and away from the qualities that endeared the original tracks to fans, which probably constitutes much of the reason why a lot of folks find Grand Finale objectionable - it's not tailored to cater to or indulge to FF6 fans. But the new interpretations convey the intended moods and spirits perhaps better than the originals - the creeping eerieness of the Phantom Forest, the sense of the grand freedom of flight and the luxurious expanse of the skies in the airship theme, the oppression of "Troops March on" (strangely effectively paired and contrasted with an exhilarating passage later in the piece), the erratic pacing and on-the-edge, almost tense playfulness punctuated by sudden, violent, explosive crescendos that so befits the subject of Kefka's theme, and the fluid violins of "Kids Run through the City Corner" that communicate the pastoral calm of a small village so much better than the in-game version's rinky-dink instrumentation. And who cannot enjoy hearing, yes, Celes's aria in stately, full-operatic splendor, sounding for all the world like something you'd truly hear at a night at the Met, or the opening theme that makes true full use of the orchestra with its ominous Wagnerian prologue and its bold, adventurous, wondrous performance of the opening variation of Tina's theme, each distinct, beautifully-implemented instrument - delicate and ethereal yet strong flute, swelling horns, persistent, driving violins, triumphant bells - coming together into an awesome personification of the boldness of journey and the wonder of the unknown, perhaps the best arrangement of any track ever? (The only track that significantly fails in any way, in fact, is "Relm", due entirely to an obnoxious bagpipe in the foreground that stomps all over the hearth-and-home light woodwind and warm violin every time it rears its cacophonous head. Based upon this track and the OSV's "Relm", the composers would be well advised to stay away from bagpipes all together.)

Certain renditions, like the very Vivaldi-ish "Gau" and "Milan de Chocobo" (which sounds like it could serve as the background music to a chocobo nature documentary), take their time to unfold, but then, most of Grand Finale's tracks are slow to develop and rambling and exploratory - the music here, unlike, oftentimes, its source, doesn't have an agenda to pack the most emotional punch in a short allotted time. It's a lot like...regular, classical orchestral music. Much of Grand Finale takes thought - and second thought - to fully appreciate, but it approaches its subjects with a maturity I've found nowhere else in the game music world and is perhaps the album truest to the words "orchestral arrangement" I've yet heard.

Reviewed by Rebecca Capowski
(originally published on her site)


Copyright 1999-2002 Hollow Light Media




FHF 1914-1999 SMF 1992-1999

All Rocketbaby™ images and this site are copyright 1999-2002 Hollow Light Media.
All images and sound are the propertyof their respective owners.
All images and sounds
are for evaluation purposes only and should be removed from your hard drive after 24 hours.

Japan Banner Exchange