CD: Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows (2011)

March 13, 2012 | By

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Rating: Excellent

Label: Water Tower Music/ Released: December 13, 2011

Tracks & Album Length: 18 tracks / (57:26)


Special Notes: Enhanced CD includes link to bonus music & video content [U.S. only].


Composer: Hans Zimmer




Hans Zimmer & Co. return with a slightly grimmer sound for the sequel to 2009’s Sherlock Holmes [M], featuring more gothic German gravitas and gypsy clanging, and while the CD lacks the addictiveness of the first score (better album editing, tighter thematic continuity), the new effort features some great bombast that fans of Zimmer expect when characters begin to run quick and fast.

After a steeped Germanic intro (nicely riffing Wagner’s deliciously beautifully dreary “Gotterdammerung”), “Tick Tock” blasts into full fugue mode, starting large and heavy before being stripped down to muted string figures and reverberating hurdy-gurdy. Near the end, Zimmer’s Sherlock theme is given its full intro, with signature ticking effects and textured rhythmic patterns.

Unlike the prior score, there’s a greater array of instrument samples mixed with organic sounds, and it’s sometimes fascinating to hear the two twirling around each other.. “Chess” allows Zimmer to unfurl all the facets of his main theme – tragic, kinetic, and wry – but his approach during the lengthy cue is constant chord shift and varying dynamics before a heavy percussive finale.

Worked into the score are sections from “Don Giovanni” and “Die Fiorelle,” plus the use of Ennio Morricone’s theme from Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970). The operatic extracts are surrounded by score material in cues such as “To the Opera!” whereas the Morricone cue is heard on its own, and Zimmer also evokes Morricone’s style in “The Mycroft Suite,” borrowing a bit from “Peter and the Wolf” as well.

More than the prior score are multiple theme renditions by a gypsy orchestra, giving Zimmer’s Sherlock some very witty renditions, be it a gypsy dance version with screechy violin and clarinet; a rapping percussion variation that spins towards a dizzying finale; a brass-only lament; or a jazzy gypsy version (the best of the lot) with pizzicato strings, mordant violin solo, and cascading notes on cimbalom.

Water Tower’s CD also features bonus CDPlus content… but none of the downloadable materials – music & videos – are available in Canada due to region locking, making the CD’s value-added content rather worthless, if not a cheat to non-participatory territories.




© 2012 Mark R. Hasan


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