We’ve written extensively about the Brass de Bravo series here, and they’ve always come as unexpected surprises. Featuring the Siena Wind Orchestra, these compilations offer orchestral arrangements of tracks that often haven’t received their moment in the spotlight, and this volume is no different.
After an upbeat and energetic “Main Theme” from Final Fantasy V with lots of lovely flourishes, it’s on to the sweet and mellow “Elia, The Maiden of Water” from Final Fantasy III, the regal and decisive “Mt. Gulg” from the original Final Fantasy, and a slow and contemplative take on “Terra’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VI. The gentle sway and bell tolls of “Ami” from Final Fantasy VIII are a real treat, as are the oft-forgotten “Crazy Motorcycle” from Final Fantasy VII with its creative arrangement full of bells and chimes and “Force Your Way” from Final Fantasy VIII which was originally an electronic song and is wonderful with a live orchestra. The swinging jazz version of “Dear Friends” from Final Fantasy V is also a great addition. The album closes with straightforward versions of the regal “Rebel Army” from Final Fantasy II, the stirring “Aerith’s Theme” from Final Fantasy VII, and the folksy “A Place I’ll Return to Someday” from Final Fantasy IX.
The album comes packed in with a sticker, and there’s also an accompanying disc that was distributed at concerts with the original soundtrack versions of each song along with a 15-minute-long discussion about the show with the talent involved.
The album is available on CD Japan if you’re interested.
While Square Enix has ended its SQ arrangement album series, I always kind of felt that the BRA BRA Final Fantasy Brass de Bravo album fit within that space. While the same wind ensemble performed the entire album, the eclectic styles perhaps accounted for this perception. I loved the first album, but didn’t expect more, so I was surprised when the follow-up was announced.
BRA★BRA FINAL FANTASY BRASS de BRAVO 2 presents 12 new arrangements, once again in varying styles. There are straightforward orchestral presentations of the fan-favorite “Battle at the Big Bridge” and a medley of overworld themes from the first three Final Fantasy games, but also a epic and triumphant spin on the Final Fantasy IV overworld, a somber and somewhat glorious take on “Cosmo Canyon” with staccato woodwind additions that brought Spirited Away to mind, the flamenco-tigned “Something to Protect,” and a sleazy swingin’ jazz version of “Kefka” that is a real treat. There are sweet woodwinds in what’s probably my favorite version of Final Fantasy VII’s “Gold Saucer,” a big band with bumpin’ bass version of “The Man With the Machine Gun,” the grand and epic “Fight With Seymour,” the gentle sway of “Fragments of Memories,” and a live rendition of “Mambo de Chocobo.”
Final Fantasy fans will enjoy the varied approaches taken with this album, so pick it up at CD Japan if you’re interested.
I’m probably not the only person who thought this album was going to be a brass album. It’s called Brass de Bravo, after all. What you’re going to get, however, is more along the lines of a small ensemble with, yes, a fleshed out brass section, performing mainly orchestral arrangements. Apparently there was a live performance featuring a brass group in conjunction with the Siena Wind Orchestra, which explains this sound. Fortunately the fun selection of arrangements and suites make up for the confusing album title, so let’s dig in. Continue reading Review: BRA★BRA FINAL FANTASY BRASS de BRAVO