What other composition could better accompany a duel to the death? Probably none. A dark symphonic waltz plays out as blades clash and destinies are met; the kind taut, badass scene that would bring a tear to a Kurosawa fan’s eyes.
The whole piece is great, but for me, the piano really just steals the show. Most of the melody is in the strings, and at times the piano can be hard to hear, but there are some really awesome sounds being produced that set the tone of the piece. A few cleverly dissonant chords, quick melodic ideas contrasting the slow movement of the strings, a succession of strong cadential chords between key sections of the piece; it’s the modest hero of Violent Emotion.
For those curious, there is an orchestrated version of this song, but it just doesn’t do it for me. It sounds great for the most part, but there’s something about the instrumentation that fails to completely capture what made the original so awesome. It’s probably because they downplayed the piano.