CD: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

February 16, 2012 | By

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Rating: Excellent

Label: Silva Screen/ Released: September 19, 2011

Tracks & Album Length: 19 tracks / (59:31)


Special Notes: 8-page colour booklet.


Composer: Alberto Iglesias




The Cold War spy film is its own genre, less reliant on action, elaborate physical chase sequences, and the charisma of a shiny, athletic hero typical of the James Bond and Mission: Impossible franchises. In most cases – be it the original TV series upon which this film version is based, or classics such as The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), or The Russia House (1990) – Cold War films are about bureaucratic departments with aging or bland men struggling to remain emotionally inert as they’re moved about an espionage chess board by more proactive bureaucrats, trying to outwit rival governments whether there is a chance of outright war, or just regime-to-regime posturing.

The music is therefore aimed at the psychologies of the characters because it’s the human chess pieces that propel the drama, and maintain our interest. The conflict between emotional suppression, professionalism, and the difficulty in grasping onto miniscule types of human interaction as substitutes for friendship or love mandate low-key scores, and it’s a challenge for any composer to create more by using less; establish complexities of characters and politics discreetly.

Albert Iglesias’ approach in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is unsurprisingly subtle: the music often appears and disappears like a cloud, leaving a thematic shadow or an impression before passing over and fading away. Nothing feels solid, themes never evolve into complete statements, and what thematic fragments do appear are splinters that red musical parts drifting and converging into short pieces before they’re pulled away.

“Tarr and Irina” offers a mix of suspense and yearning, whereas “esterhase” may the de facto action cue, where Iglesias uses frenetic strings, swelling waves of dissonance, and a faltering tempo. The cue’s second half switches to a slight jazzy style, with the piano playing a brief theme fragment.

Iglesias also uses piano and chamber strings in “Jim Prideaux,” and piano is important in the final eponymously titled cue which assembles all of the bits and pieces into a short suite.

Silva Screen’s mastering is first-rate, and the sonic dimensions of the small orchestra are quite deep, balance soft, delicate gestures with analogue-thick bass tones. Easily one of the best suspense scores of 2011.



© 2012 Mark R. Hasan


External References:

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