The Final Fantasy VI Piano collections really heralded a breakthrough in piano music arranged based on video game themes -- as, for the first time, the music effortlessly and successfully integrates classical elements (and demanding technique) to the original music, without the source material losing any of its charm. Shirou Satou was once again on arranging duties for this album (he also arranged FFVPC and FFIVPC) but this time, he took it up a notch and came up with some truly outstanding arrangements. If I am to try to locate a theme throughout the exceptionally broad music styles in this collection, it would be that of the etude -- as remarkably, many of the pieces have very etude-like elements -- there is a left hand etude (track number 1), an etude in sixths (no. 3), one in octaves (no. 4), one for the right hand (no. 6), one for tremolos (no. 9) and one for playing in triplets (no.12). The inspirations definitely seems to be Chopin's etudes here, (I would say his opus 10 etudes as opposed to the opus 25 ones), and like Chopin's etudes, they are all equally musical and quite brilliant compositions. This piano collections really set a new standard and benchmark for all that was to follow, and so much credit is due here for Shirou Satou (who is quite an unsung hero really :/) for paving the way as he did.
'Tina' (also known as 'Terra's Theme in Japan) is a much played and loved piece and perhaps the most cherished from this piano collection. For the main, a simple right hand melody is accompanied by a relentless left hand accompaniment. The rapturous middle section is followed by a recapitulation of the theme before the right hand cascades down the piano and melts away into the left, both hands finishing in unison. In terms of locating this piece among other piano collections pieces, I would say that it can perhaps be seen as a precursor to 'Concert Paraphrase on a theme of Dearly Beloved' from the Kingdom Hearts Piano Collections -- whilst the latter is definitely a lot more technically demanding, structurally, the two pieces share many similarities.
BRIEF NOTE: whilst this isn't itself a totally 100% clean take, once the notes were learnt, my main difficultly in getting a good take was actually to keep to a tempo that was similar to the official recorded version as my tendency was to race away -- as the player is usually encouraged to do if playing an etude. I was still a little ahead of tempo in the end, but not so so bad (about 10 seconds ahead) -- however shortly after recording this version, just for the fun of it, I did another take, but this time completely ignoring remaining faithful to the tempo and played it pretty much 'as fast as I could', doing a speed run but whilst also trying not to lose all semblance of the actual piece of piano music underneath. In the end I clocked it in a whole minute faster than even this, slightly faster recording. As one can imagine, the recording was full of lots of quite bad errors, but depending on how I feel about it when I listen it back in a few days time, I may upload it, as at the very least, it may have some interest as a 'fail recording' and a 'curiosity' on youtube -- incidentally, there are a few other 'speed run' FFPC pieces on here that other people have recorded, off the top of my head, 'Attack' from FFXPC has a few, but I don't think that one exists for 'Tina'. If I don't eventually upload my speed run, then I may 'properly' try other 'speed runs' for other, appropriate pieces in the future.
On a different note, for those of you who like to read, I've written a novel which can now be found on Amazon Kindle. Here is a link to the US store. The book is also available in other territories too, like the UK, France, Germany etc. Check it out!