Shi Gu

Zbigniew Preisner

" An absolute masterpiece. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the regular release

Shi Gu (Lost and Love, 2015) is a Chinese film directed by Sanyuan Peng, starring Andy Lau, Boran Jing and Tony Ka Fai Leung. The film tells a universal story of two characters who forge an unlikely friendship in their ongoing search for lost loved ones (a child and parents). The director´s decision to hire Zbigniew Preisner occurred to her during an attendance of one of his concerts held in Shanghai. It also led to a second Chinese film the composer scored in the same year, Wang chao de nu ren: Yang Gui Fei (Lady of the Dynasty). I have not seen or heard what kind of score it is, but I´m told Edyta Krzemień sings to his music.

The music Preisner wrote to Shi Gu is a typical work of melancholy and beauty, full of veracious emotions, but not without minor traces that suggest melodrama. It features a wonderful lullaby, suitable for the emotional content of the film, and numerous of other themes, including a tragic waltz heard in Memories from youth. They are presented in a way that is not too conspicuous, which he establishes by the help of an archetypal approach, in which the music flows gently from one piece into another disguising thematic material continuously. For this, the composer utilises a universal palette of mostly orchestral (high-pitched) string lines, music box sounds, solo violin, harp, piano, guitar and flute.

Those familiar with the composer's repertoire will not discover anything radically different. For example, the fragility in the playing of flute player Jacek Ostaszewski worked flawlessly on scores such as Trois Couleurs Bleu and Un Secret, and within this newer work it is just as heartening. However, there is something in this score I was instantly stunned by; the use of the melody of About Passing (from the piano album with Leszek Możdżer - 10 Easy Pieces for Piano) in Flashback and Lost and Love – Main Theme II. The belated take on the original track for piano, is now transcribed for orchestra and plucked snares, and is especially thrilling in Flashback, as soon as the string layers start to swell, beginning around 2:20 into the cue. This is an emotionally upsurging handkerchief moment that is without a doubt the spine-tingling highlight of the entire score. I can safely look back and acknowledge that it is also one of the most emotional cues the composer has ever written.

The high-level quality that Preisner is able to produce for Shi Gu is befitting of one of the best actively writing composers. An absolute masterpiece. It is the third release of a Preisner score by Calder records, following the equally excellent cds of Skyggenes Dal (Valley of Shadows) and A História da Eternidade (The History of Eternity).

1. Lullaby (1:44)
2. The Beginning of the Story (1:07)
3. Missing (0:55)
4. On the Journey (2:02)
5. Friendship (2:55)
6. Memories from Youth (3:23)
7. Woman in the Rain (1:11)
8. Retrospective (0:55)
9. False Hope (2:01)
10. Lost and Love – Main Theme (1:04)
11. Last Hope (1:39)
12. Dinner (0:51)
13. First Bridge (0:48)
14. Swathe I (0:34)
15. Village (1:40)
16. Dreams (1:01)
17. Swathe II (1:00)
18. Night (2:27)
19. Bus Stop (3:09)
20. Flashback (5:47)
21. Lost and Love – Main Theme II (0:59)
22. Lady’s Death (3:51)
23. Lullaby II (1:41)
24. In the Car (2:31)
25. Lost and Love – Main Theme III (2:40)
26. End Credits (2:49)

Total duration: 50:44

(written 11-10-2019)
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 2 votes - average 4.75/5)

Released by

Caldera records (regular release 2019)