The music of Final Fantasy V, VIII, IX, and XIII gets the red carpet treatment in an incredible new orchestral arrangement album
There's not exactly a shortage of Final Fantasy themed music releases - but it's also entirely fair to say that some are more special than others. Few are as significant as Final Symphony, the orchestra concert series that elevates the material from the original games to a new level.
While less commonly performed than the more widespread Distant Worlds concert series, Final Symphony sets itself apart by offering something different. Rather than performing individual tacks from each FF title with a full orchestra, Final Symphony weaves much of the soundtrack of each game together into one long, cohesive performance - a full orchestral suite made up of multiple movements.
The aim is to retell the story of each game through the progression of its music, with some of these suites running a half hour or more. It's a special thing, which is why the first Final Symphony album topped classical music charts around the world. Now, a new release with new arrangements is imminent.
The original Final Symphony concert and album covered FF6, FF7, and FF10. Final Symphony II covers FF5, FF8, FF9, and FF13 - allowing its arrangers to delve into some of Final Fantasy's most texturally rich and memorable soundtracks for the first time.
Final Symphony II has been performed before, in concerts around the world - and new tour dates are coming over the next year. But this marks the first time these arrangements have been released to the public for home listening.
We at RPG Site have been lucky enough to have an early listen to the album - and it doesn't disappoint. FF9 is a particularly special game to me, and the arrangement on offer here takes you right through the emotions and journey of the game, from Prima Vista antics to the final showdown. It's evocative of the mood of the title, and delivers a higher end experience than simply listening to an orchestral version of a single classic track like "You're Not Alone".
Meanwhile, the FF13 symphony does much to highlight the differences in technique and style between FF13 composer Masashi Hamauzu and classic FF songsmith Nobuo Uematsu, bringing Hamauzu's love of a certain style of strings and piano to the forefront.
In fact, all four symphonies are extremely special, beautiful tributes to their source games and soundtracks. If one of these four is 'your FF', have a handkerchief ready.
The closest thing to a sneak preview we can give you right now is this old recording of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra - the same that performed for this new recording - playing just a tiny snippet of classic music from FF8, embedded above. Imagine this, but weaving in even more themes from the game across one lengthy, uninterrupted suite. It's something special.
Final Symphony II will be made available on August 4th 2023; you'll be able to listen to it on all major streaming platforms, or purchase it via Bandcamp. Those who pre-order the album now on Bandcamp will also get a bonus 20-minute FF9 arrangement, too. More information on how to get the album, plus its upcoming tour schedule, can be found on the official FF Symphony website.