|ARIA ~Piano Collection~ Stagione
|Aria the Animation/Aria the Natural
|Takeshi Senoo, Mina Kubota, Shigeharu Sasako, Shouri Kitagawa,
|August 02, 2006
|1. Stagione -Joshou-
|3. Stagione -Haru-
|6. Natsu Machi
|7. Stagione -Natsu-
|8. Tooi Kobune
|9. Smile Again
|10. Stagione -Aki-
|11. Koi to wa Donna Mono
|13. Stagione -Fuyu-
|14. Shourou no Patori ~Neo Venezia~
|15. Santa Claus no Sora
|16. Soshite Fune wa Iku -Short Ver.-
|17. Stagione -Shuushou-
|Female Cast of Aria
Review: Aria Piano Collection: Stagione, the first of two Aria Piano collections, is aptly named after the Italian word “Stagione” for “seasons.”
To have an air of simplicity that still has the ability to convey deep and powerful emotions is the fundamental ethos the Aria series lives by, and as such, the Aria Piano Collection: Stagione does well to follow the same standard. The arrangements done by the artists are thoughtful and well crafted, and although they are simple renditions of their original counterparts, the piano versions of each song carry enough of the original piece’s spirit, but are still distinct enough to carry a soul of their own. Stagione’s piano pieces are not nearly as intricate as other piano arrangement albums, but what they lack in complexity, they make up for in flawless execution. The various artists, who contribute their own unique rendition of our beloved Aria classics, give a very subtle touch to each piece and make it their own. Moving and captivating, Stagione is a prime example of an album that doesn’t rely on overly complicated musical riff-raff , but is instead fueled by a natural charm that very few albums manage to have, thereby offering an immersive experience that will captivate the listener for years to come.
Each piece in Stagione is utterly moving and stands as proof that less is sometimes more. It should be noted that one of the key aspects of this album that sets it apart from other arrangement albums is the ability for each song to have a very distinct touch that differs from the original. We are not talking about carbon copies; rather, each song carries a life of its own and has an invigorating effect upon the listener, while allowing the listener to explore a distinct array of different styles and nuances rarely captured effectively on one album. It isn’t all that rare for soundtracks to receive piano arrangement albums, but what sets Stagione apart from the rest is the way the album immerses the listener into the world of Neo Venezia, which makes the music feel the more real and endearing as a result.
The album begins with Akari Mizunashi, the lead character of the Aria series, welcoming us into her world of Neo Venezia, and her soothing voice sets the perfect mood for the rest of the album. Organizationally, the album is separated into four different seasons, each introduced by a cast member of the show, hence the album’s title, “Stagione.” After Akari’s brief introduction, the album starts off with Mina Kubota’s rendition of “Euforia,” which functions wonderfully as a gateway to a widely varied album. With a soft, and gentle touch, Mina plays “Euforia” with unparalleled grace that complements the album’s simplistic nature.
It is spring in Neo Venezia, and the new season blossoms forth through Sasako Shigeharu’s tender rendition of “Aqua” and “Hanabie” and ends with “Natsu Machi” played by Shouri Kitagawa. All three songs blend seamlessly and complement the “spring” portion of the album quite well, but it is “Natsu Machi” that stands out from the three as being the principal track that captures the essence of this season. The song gives a very distinct warm feeling that is arranged by Kitagawa to accentuate the back melody rather than the vocals of the original song. The chorus segues into an almost ballad-like direction, which is a step away from the original piece, but does not detract from the overall arrangement in any way.
As summer and fall pass by in Neo Venezia, three of Aria’s most recognizable melodies play. “Tooi Kobune” and “Smile Again” represent the summer season wonderfully. “Smile Again” is arguably one of the songs that makes the biggest departure from its original counterpart, but once again, the piano rendition is just as every bit as beautiful as its source. Takeshi Senoo opts to take a far more mellow and melancholic approach to the song, whereas the original is far more upbeat, but that doesn’t mean Senoo makes the song depressing. Instead, he chooses a very light and airy nuance that brings a whole new dimension to the song. “Undine” is the principal track in the album’s fall cycle. This arrangement sticks close to the original rendition, but Mina Kubota’s playing of “Undine” is exquisite, and reflects her serene style previously seen in her rendition of “Euforia”
And now as the last season of Neo Venezia, winter, dawns upon us, Takeshi Senoo lends his talent once more and plays endearing arrangements of “Shourou no Patori” and “Santa Claus no Sora” which fit the season’s atmosphere perfectly. Ou Akioka arranges a wonderfully emotionally balanced rendition of “Soshite Fune wa Iku” played by Takeshi Sonoo. So as the album comes to a close, and the female cast share parting words with the listener, “Rainbow” plays as the fitting final piece to end our journey. “Rainbow” is arguably the song on the album that takes the largest stride away from the original, but it is given an entire new aura that is lacking in its counterpart. The feeling of the song is far more somber than the rest of the album, but even so, the wistful tone of the song still has an air of tenderness that invokes deep thought and reflection.
The first time I listened to this album, I realized that very few albums have the ability to touch the listener on a very raw human level; where music can come to life, and become something far deeper and more meaningful, where notes on a piece of paper become something so tangibly relatable, that it becomes embedded into a person’s very being. Stagione dares to be one of those few albums, and executes its goal to perfection. Whether you are a fan or the Aria series or not, the album is fit for almost any occasion, and if you are in the mood to simply relax, and ease the aches and pains of your day, Stagione is your best bet.