Reviews | Written by Nick Spacek 13/02/2020

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS / COMPOSER: HANS ZIMMER / LABEL: MUSIC ON VINYL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

It's been nearly ten years since the release of director Guy Ritchie's second Sherlock Holmes film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. While fans have been left waiting years for the hopeful follow-up, Music On Vinyl's soundtrack imprint, At the Movies, is satiating that hunger with the debut vinyl release of Hans Zimmer's score for the sophomore outing.

Zimmer's music for the Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law-starring Ritchie films will always take a backseat to David Arnold and Michael Price's instantly recognisable work for the Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss BBC adaptation with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, and that's unfortunate. Arnold and Price's music is fantastic, yes, but Zimmer has crafted bigger and more bombastic tunes for the big screen Sherlock than the more insular and intimate music for the television.

Tracks such as Romanian Wind and The End? are masterful examples. They're fun, playful and exuberant. Zimmer worked with a collection of Romani musicians on violin and accordion to tie the score into Noomi Rapace's character, Madame Simza Heron, and the end result makes for music which comes across like a whirling dervish, as appropriate for kicking up one's heels as it for soundtracking a manic chase.

Music such as that, which takes inspiration from other musical styles, is really where Zimmer's score fares best. To the Opera! interpolates three pieces for Mozart's Don Giovanni, effortlessly slipping from intense, Victorian detective score to high art and back again, repeatedly and dynamically. The blood races and cools as the music changes, and it's really excellent.

There are two more compositions on the score for A Game of Shadows by other composers, with one faring better than the other. During a scene when Holmes is tortured by Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), the crown prince of crime sings along to a 78 of Die Forelle by Franz Schubert. The recording was arranged by Mel Wesson and performed by Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake. Though not actually contemporaneous to the film, the modern recording sounds just like it came from a century ago.

Less effective is the reworking of Ennio Morricone's theme for Two Mules for Sister Sara. It's performed not by the studio orchestra assembled by Zimmer and Lorne Balfe, but instead by a group credited as Movie Screen Orchestra. It's a little limp, and one wishes that the folks at Sony had just shelled out the money for the original recordings, as it sounds hopelessly out of place with the performers here.

The double LP comes as a limited edition of 500 individually numbered copies on silver and black marbled vinyl, although the copy we received for review was more silver with a faint hint of black thread detail. It looks lovely, and sounds bombastic. Whoever is mastering At the Movies' releases for vinyl is finding new and innovative ways to create releases on wax which push the limits of just how big and brash a film score can be, and we salute them for it.