After my relative disappointment of the score to Pirates of the Caribbean 4, I was hoping Zimmer would deliver the goods on Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and finish the year on a high. In my opinion, he has achieved that, and I thought SH AGOS was great.
The main theme from the first film is carried over on to this score (although it isn't overused in my opinion). My favourite track by far has to be "Tick Tock (Shadows Part 2)" - mainly dominated by frantic string writing and has the Zimmer trademark stamped all over it. Brilliant stuff.
A point should be raised by the more Gypsy sounding portions of the score - these are tracks 5. "It's So Overt It's Covert", 6. "Romanian Wind", 8. "He's All Me Me Me" and Track 12 "Die Forelle". Track 7 - "Did You Kill My Wife" features a sombre trumpet soloist that has a more Spanish feel to it, and is quite good. As a side note (but is relevant in my opinion), Zimmer went to Slovakia to travel around and get a flavour of the rustic Gypsy style of music in a real authentic setting. When he found several musicians he liked, they were recorded in a studio in Italy. The point that I want to make is that although these tracks are not at all to my musical taste, I can appreciate that effort was made to make the score sound as authentic as possible.
Towards the end of the album, "The Red Book" is another great action track. Track 16 "Memories of Sherlock" is a slow and sombre piano track with some light synth/orchestral ambiance. I really liked it, and the change of pace and style was welcome. "The End?" sounds like a short end credits track and reprises the main Sherlock theme. Zimmer has recently started to put some remixed tracks on the end of his albums - something I don't particularly like. The only remix track on this album is "Romani Holiday (Antonius Remix)" is no where near as gruesome as I had anticipated, although is by no means a track I would play often.
Overall, I think this is a strong score by Zimmer. I can't see me playing the more gypsy style tracks often because I just don't like that style, but they were well executed and produced. The more orchestral portions of the score I loved though, especially "Tick Yock", "The Red Book" and the slower "Memories of Sherlock". If you didn't like Zimmer's previous Sherlock score, I don't expect you will particularly like this one. However, for those who did, this contains all of the quirky charm of the first and improves on them. The album runs just short of an hour, and minus the remix and Gypsy tracks, there's a good 40 minutes of orchestral stuff that I think Zimmer fans would love.