Howlin’ Wolf Records may be a relatively new label but in a very short period of time they have filled their catalogue with some impressive film scores. Many of these have been of the Horror or Fantasy variety but there have been other types of soundtracks represented within their catalogue. One of the many things I like about Howlin Wolf is that they release soundtracks which a few years back would not have seen the light of day – never even being considered for a release because of the film’s budget or because the film went straight to DVD or received a limited theatrical release. The label has also been instrumental in introducing many composers to film music enthusiasts who have real talent and who might not have been given a break by other labels – so we have to firstly say thanks to Howlin’ Wolf for being courageous enough to release some of these scores.IN THE NAME OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, is actually a children’s adventure/fantasy. Filmed in Hungary and directed by Zsolt Bernath it pays homage to many Hungarian children’s films which have been produced over the years but which were unfairly sidelined by distributors and critics outside Hungary simply because they were films specifically made for children. This was rather a blinkered attitude because cinema is just another form of story telling and at times the storylines of movies are designed to take us away from the stresses and tribulations of the rat race and realities of adult life and perhaps also attempt to appeal to the inner child, which exists in all of us. In essence, deep down we are all big kids who love a good yarn and delight in the spooky, the fantastic and the excitement conveyed by filmmakers.
The music for IN THE NAME OF SHERLOCK HOLMES is the work of Hungarian born composer Robert Gulya who studied piano and composition at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music and the technicalities and basics of film scoring at the University of Southern California where he was tutored and guided by Leonard Rosenman, David Raksin, Christopher Young and Elmer Bernstein. The influences of these iconic composers can be heard within Gulya’s scores and IN THE NAME OF SHERLOCK HOLMES is a score which is not only entertaining but effectively makes a gentle nod in the direction of the composers Gulya studied under. When listening to the score it certainly comes over as a full and rich symphonic work but in the notes for the CD the composer mentions the fact that he utilized samples from a library. However the violin solos are the flawless work of Gergely Kuklis who is the lead or concert master from the Hungarian National Symphony Orchestra. If this is a score made up completely of samples then they are pretty good samples. The CD begins with a brief but effective piece entitled “Gold” in which strings and brass work together to create a powerful but almost mischievous sounding opening. Track two is the brilliant “Main Title” music where solo violin takes centre stage and is supported by children’s choir, pizzicato strings and again mischievous sounding woodwind, cheeky almost jaunty sounding harpsichord flourishes and haunting piano solo.
Track three “120 Doorsteps” carries on where the main title ends and again is a mischievous sounding cue. It has a kind of comic atmosphere to it with woodwind being playfully performed as musical punctuation to the strings at the offset but the sound alters quite swiftly as the cue draws to its conclusion; the mood being far less care-free than at the start. Track four“Disappeared” is a tense piece which begins with slightly anxious sounding strings; these are bolstered by various percussive elements and further layers of strings and subtle use of piano which acts as a bridge between the percussion and the strings; the composer creating a tense but pleasant sounding composition. The remainder of Gulya’s score is invigorating, poignant, emotive and exciting. It’s also an inventive work, filled to overflowing with some wonderful thematic material. In my opinion this is a must-have soundtrack. The disc is well packaged with informative notes from the composer and director, a brief synopsis of the film and a short background on the composer. The booklet also contains a number of stills from the film and has an eye catching front cover. Highly Recommended.