The Cinematic Piano Playlist

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

Faber Music’s Piano Playlist series is developing at pace these days. After the success of the first book, published in 2019 and reviewed here, the Christmas Piano Playlist appeared in late 2022, reviewed here, followed just weeks ago by the Peaceful Piano Playlist Revisited, reviewed here.

Now, hot on those heels, they have yet another title joining the series. The Cinematic Piano Playlist promises,

“Over 30 incredible themes from the biggest film soundtracks, games and television shows, all arranged for intermediate piano.”

Let’s find out what the collection delivers…

The Playlist

Having reviewed all three previous titles in this series, I will try not to repeat myself and stick to a basic synopsis of the “playlist” concept.

As usual, Faber Music have curated an audio streaming playlist of the music in the collection. You can enjoy short previews of each piece here or sign in to Spotify to listen to the whole album:

And here’s the full list of pieces included in the music book:

  • A Choice from Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture [Jessica Curry]
  • A New Era from Downton Abbey: A New Era [John Lunn]
  • Aerith’s Theme from Final Fantasy VII [Nobuo Uematsu]
  • Beautiful Lie from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice [Hans Zimmer]
  • Beth’s Story from The Queen’s Gambit [Carlos Rafael Rivera]
  • Catwoman from The Batman [Michael Giacchino]
  • The Ceremony from Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore [James Newton Howard]
  • Concerning Hobbits from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring [Howard Shore]
  • Cornfield Chase from Interstellar [Hans Zimmer]
  • The Departure from The Leftovers [Max Richter]
  • Emma Piano Suite from Emma [Rachel Portman]
  • Doctor Who Theme [Ron Grainer]
  • Evenstar from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers [Howard Shore]
  • Every 27 Years from IT [Benjamin Wallfisch]
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close [Alexandre Desplat]
  • Ezio’s Family from Assassin’s Creed II [Jesper Kyd]
  • Fallen Soldier from Operation Mincemeat [James Morgan]
  • Fresh Paint from Elle [Anne Dudley]
  • Harry and Ginny from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [Alexandre Desplat]
  • I Promise from Westworld Season 2 [Ramin Djawadi]
  • The Imperial March Darth Vader’s Theme from Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back [John Williams]
  • Innocence from Free The Mind [Jóhann Jóhannsson]
  • The Kingdom of Dreams from The Sandman [David Buckley]
  • Main Title from Chocolat [Rachel Portman]
  • Mia & Sebastian’s Theme from La La Land [Justin Hurwitz]
  • Never Forget from Halo 3 [Martin O’Donnell]
  • New Moon (The Meadow) from Twilight [Alexandre Desplat]
  • Newt Says Goodbye to Tina /Jacob’s Bakery Medley from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them [James Newton Howard]
  • Romantic Flight from How To Train Your Dragon [John Powell]
  • Theme from Superman [John Williams]
  • Sweden from Minecraft [Daniel Rosenfeld]
  • Swim Piano Hymn from Conversations With Friends [Stephen Rennicks]
  • Table For Two from Nocturnal Animals [Abel Korzeniowski]
  • Time from Inception [Hans Zimmer]
  • Together We Will Live Forever from The Fountain [Clint Mansell]
  • Victor’s Piano Solo from Corpse Bride [Danny Elfman]
  • What Else Do You Love? from The English Patient [Gabriel Yared]
  • Zanarkand from Final Fantasy X [Nobuo Uematsu]

Having wondered whether this collection would be sufficiently different to 2019’s Faber Music Soundtracks Piano Anthology (reviewed here), I am pleased by the minimal duplication. Movie fans will certainly enjoy having both collections.

The notable distinctive between the Soundtracks Piano Anthology and this new Cinematic Piano Playlist is that while the former included more classic material, the latter has a more contemporary edge. The inclusion of music taken from the latest trending TV shows and digital games will give this new volume appeal with a younger generation of players, and must be particularly welcomed for that.

Meanwhile, the differential between this and previous collections in the Piano Playlist series is that those titles all had a chillout vibe, while this one offers a more dramatic range of music. If my experience of these things is anything to go by, you are unlikely to hear Darth Vader’s Imperial March while enjoying a Spa Day.

Reflecting that evolution for the series, the cover is also more vibrant, with bold colours and a gloss finish, unlike the soft matt covers of the previous books. Within, the full page black and white images that graced previous Piano Playlist books are notably absent.

Beyond those basic observations, the volume follows Faber Music’s established formula, including excellent binding, white pages within, clean and well-spaced music engraving, and no extras.

Though billed as being suitable for intermediate players, most pieces are late intermediate to advanced, made genuinely more difficult by the absence of any fingering suggestions to help learners. They also require techniques that the less advanced player will not be confident with, so I would suggest the book is most suitable for players between UK Grades 6-8.

Closing Thoughts

Faber Music seem to have rather hit their stride publishing compilations of this sort, with several new collections appearing each year. They could easily blur into one another, and it is to the publisher’s credit that this one stands out from the crowd.

Credit, too, to the regular team of music compiler Lucy Holliday and transcriber Oliver Weeks, who have done a fine job here. Most of the original tracks were orchestral or electronic, and while some of the solo piano arrangements here suit the instrument more obviously than others, all are enjoyable and make their mark.

Once again, Faber have identified a target audience and hit the bullseye. This isn’t perhaps a collection that will appeal to all readers, but for its target demographic it definitely packs a stunt punch!… ★ POW!! ★

I am sure that The Cinematic Piano Playlist will find wide and very deserved popularity.

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based in Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.