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Soundtrack review: Trishna (Shigeru Umebayashi – 2015)

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Shigeru Umebayashi is one of the composers I get most excited about. There’s something about his deep and sorrowful sound that always gets to me. He’s also one of the composers I can distinguish very clearly. I have no trouble identifying his music or his scores. This time, Caldera Records presents us his composition for the 2011 movie “Trishna”, a modern adaptation set in India of the famous Tess of the D’Urbervilles novel. Working class girl falls in love with businessman but they can’t act on their strong feelings because of the external restrictions.

And there is that familiar and addictive sound that I knew was coming. Umebayashi starts with a waltz, his almost trademark composition. I remember it from his parts of “A single man” or from Wong Kar Wai’s “In the mood for love”. I see Shigeru Umebayashi as the Haruki Murakami of Japanese film music: the composer who manages to find the perfect blend of tradition and Western modernism and manages to create unforgettable and unique pieces that will stay with you long after they are over.

After the waltz we descend into the sad abyss of this story and the main theme leaves no doubts as to how this score will play. The long, wailing string sections, the magnificent cello and the pure, raw emotion of the music makes my heart sink. The music pierces my skin and cuts through to the bone before stopping suddenly and leaving the open wound to be touched by the cues that follow. The theme for the two lovers, “Trishna and Jay” is another waltz like theme which presents us the dance of the unstoppable feelings between the main characters. I can see the looks they exchange, I can feel their forbidden touches and I get choked by how impossible their love is. The violin sings all this, the violin tells me their story and shines a light on their precious moments.

“Trishna” is a sad and sensitive score, precious as the fickle flame of love Trishna and Jay must protect from the storm. I listen to the stunning “Her family’s life” with the magical flute joining the cello and I get goose bumps. Such a beautiful cue, such majestic music! The various renditions of “Trisha’s waltz” and “Trishna and Jay”, sublimely elegant, evolving as the story enfolds are gems just waiting to make their lasting impression on your souls. Shigeru Umebayashi’s music is the quiet stranger whose intense and piercing looks drill a hole in your heart and tell you more than 1000 words could ever do.

There is not a single wasted note or sound in “Trishna”. Every once in a while comes a perfect score like this one, a score you know from the first moment is going to be special. This is a magnificent musical rendition of a forbidden love story. The almost 40 minutes of score are filled to the brim with emotions, questions, moments and, above all, sweepingly beautiful music. But this is Shigeru Umebayashi and this is what he does. Has he ever written a less than memorable cue? Did his brush ever miss a spot to color? No, and this is why I love his music so much. I couldn’t listen to it all the time because of how heavy it weighs on my heart, but every now and then we need a reminded of what purely beautiful string music sounds like. Do not miss this release. If you know his sound, you will just adore “Trishna”. If you don’t, I couldn’t think of a better score to get to know him.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 38 / 38

Album excellence: 100%

Highlights:

Trishna’s Waltz

Theme

Trishna and Jay

Trishna’s Cello

Start on a Journey

Her Family’s Life

Trishna’s Waltz II

Trishna and Jay II

Talk About Love

Trishna’s Cello II

Trishna’s Waltz III

Trishna Killed Jay

Trishna’s Cello III

Our Rajasthan

Trishna’s Soul

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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