Following the success of the original Preprimer, Falcom commissioned another healing album. Once again, it featured relaxing piano quintet arrangements of a range of favourites from Ys and Dragon Slayer. However, a number of elements — both positive and negative — differentiate it from its predecessor.
For the most part, Preprimer II is even more expansive and emotional than its predecessor. Though some arrangements don't work well, the majority are very appealing. "Star Gazer" is a particularly impressive feat of new age soundscaping. It gradually builds up from its minimalistic piano-based opening into a fully-fledged piano quintet. It's so lush on a harmonic and timbral level, blending influences of romantic and jazz composers into one, and keeps getting better and better. For me, at least, this arrangement is the finest arrangement of Michio Fujisawa's Falcom work.
The increased jazz influence of the album extends to "Dancing Stars". The piano work is highly reminiscent of lounge jazz here, but not necessarily of the superficial sort, while the string quartet gradually emerges into a central rather than a central element. "Talk to the Moon" and "Star Gazer 2" also integrate jazz influences in a more subtle manner and the effect is sublime. The latter is a particularly fascinating contrast to the other items on the album, since it is entirely dedicated to solo piano, except with occasional watery sound effects in the background. Perhaps it conceptualises the entire album.
The biggest problem with Preprimer II is that it tends to labour and distort original material too music. For example, the opening arrangement is undeniably beautiful and the performers attempt to make it sound as natural and haunting as possible. However, "La Valse Pour Xanadu" seems incompatible with piano quintet, particularly with the largo pace adopted, and the result sounds awkward. When extended for over seven minutes, it's difficult to maintain attention. When listeners end up appreciating the intricacy of an arrangement more than the actual focal point, the whole purpose of the arrangement is fundamentally undermined.
Preprimer II is a complementary album to Preprimer. Those wanting even more ambitious arrangements will enjoy this album and the jazz influence is also welcome. Some arrangements are a little dull and drawn-out, but highlightrs such as "Star Gazer" easily compensate. Together, the Preprimer albums easily compensate for the disappointment of the Ys Piano Collections.
Track 2 from Ys II "LILIA", "TENDER PEOPLE"
Track 3 from Ys III "Wanderers from Ys"
Track 4 from Ys III "Varestine Castle"
Track 5 from Ys II "STAY WITH ME FOREVER"
Track 6 from Sorcerian Additional Scenario Vol. 1 "Lovely Josephine"
Track 7 from Ys "SEE YOU AGAIN"
Track 8 from Sorcerian "Ending II"
Track 9 from Sorcerian "Ending I"
Track 10 from Dragon Slayer VI (The Legend of Heroes) "Ship", "Game Over", "Ending"
SOUND PRODUCER: MICHIO FUJISAWA
EXECTIVE PRODUCER: MASAYUKI KATO (NIHON FALCOM INC.)
PRODUCER: FUJIO SAKAI
DIRECTOR: TAKUO UCHIDA, MIEKO ISHIKAWA (NIHON FALCOM INC.)
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: JUN ENDO
RECORDING ENGINEER: TAKAO SUGA
ASSISTANT ENGINEER: YOSHIMASA SAKAGUCHI, SUSUMU MASUDA
ART & GRAPHICS: ART VILLEGE FRET
DESIGN: YOSHINOBU YAMAGUCHI (WORKS D), YASUHITO IKEDA (WORKS D), YOSHIO SHIRAKI
SPECIAL THANKS TO : YUJI FUJII (FRET), MUTSUMI SHIRAISHI (FRET), SHINJI YAMAZAKI (MICRO HOUSE)
Piano: MICHIO FUJISAWA,ISAO SASAKI, YUKO FUJITA
Violin: MASATSUGU SHINOZAKI, TAISHI HARADA, SEIICHIROU YAMAMOTO, HIROKO SHIMIZU
Viola: TAMIO SUZUKI, SONOMI JIBIKI
V.cello: MASAMI HORISAWA, YUKI MURAI
RECORDING DATE : 1990.4～6
RECORDING PLACE : KING STUDIO I
Waves and Boys
Fly to the Star
An Evening Breeze
The Southern Cross of the South
Talk to the Moon
STAR GAZER II