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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by Alberto Iglesias

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Soundtrack) by Alberto Iglesias
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Soundtrack) by Alberto Iglesias
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Poster and Memorabilia)










Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Soundtrack) by Alberto Iglesias

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Composed by Alberto Iglesias
Promotional Release (2010)

Rating: 4/10

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“There is simply not enough thematic material or meaningful music for this score to showcase what we know Iglesias can do.”

Old Men Drinking in the Dark
Review by Helen San

Classically trained Spanish composer ALBERTO IGLESIAS has an ethereal, perspicacious style that Hollywood has really taken a liking to. Like actor Antonio Banderas, IGLESIAS has been propelled him into the international spotlight by his close working relationship with acclaimed Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. Recent years has seen him scoring more and more Hollywood and European artfare, the kind that gets Academy Award nominations. Twice nominated for the Academy Awards before (THE CONSTANT GARDENER and THE KITE RUNNER), IGLESIAS has just been nominated a third time for TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY (TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY). He has already won the Hollywood Film Composer Award this year for both TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY and Almodóvar’s THE SKIN I LIVE IN.

IGLESIAS’ style is reminiscent of other classical composers like JOHN CORIGLIANO and ELLIOT GOLDENTHAL. He writes abstract, discordant, thorny compositions that pique and provoke, often contrasted against an amorphous, atonal background. When it hits the spot, his music is sheer brilliance. “Los Vestidos Desgarrados” (Track 1) in THE SKIN I LIVE IN, for example, is one of the most mesmerizing and ingenious string cues I’ve ever heard. The problem was, these flashes of genius were few and far between. In both previous Oscar-nominated scores , THE CONSTANT GARDENER and THE KITE RUNNER, IGLESIAS maintained his luminosity and intelligence at a relatively steady pace throughout the albums. This year, in both THE SKIN I LIVE IN and TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, Iglesias’ music has been very uneven.

TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is the first film adaptation of the classic John le Carré spy novel, featuring the keen, aging spy George Smiley. Set in the 70’s, TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY is a thinking man’s spy mystery rather than a more action oriented, James Bond-type plot. Iglesias chose to give it a somber, dark, piano-driven dramatic score. It is too bad, because IGLESIAS, like CORIGLIANO and GOLDENTHAL, has his forte in strings. Not just strings, but fast strings.

Fast strings are a bit hard to come by in this gloomy, ambient score. But whenever they appear, they inject sorely needed energy and interest. Take “George Smiley” (1), one of the stronger themes on the album, if IGLESIAS can ever be accused of having a theme . “George Smiley” is a slow, shadowy piano and saxophone jazz cue that is as captivating as old men drinking in the dark. It is only when strings are introduced that the music starts to carry movement and urgency. Likewise, Islay Hotel (4) is only intriguing because of brisk strings in the background supporting the woodwinds and piano. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (19), featuring the main piano theme of the film, plods along uninvitingly until the GOLDENTHAL-like string section enters. Then, it moves the earth and sky. My favorite track on the album, Esterhase (14), actually skips to the chase and starts with opulent string heaven. The only reason the latter two tracks don’t get five stars is because despite the obvious mastery, they remain too atonal to be truly pleasurable. There is one exception to the “Strings Rule” rule. Relying on more melodious-than-usual piano and percussions, Treasure (2) completes the list of the five enjoyable cues on this album.

The other tracks, I’m afraid to say somewhat brusquely, are dreary and negligible. The tempo drags at an excruciating pace. The atonality becomes actually painful to listen to, befitting a horror film more than a dramatic piece. Unless you really like horror music, or say that other Oscar nominee THE HURT LOCKER, I say do yourself a favor and skip the other 14 tracks.

Compared to IGLESIAS’ other two Oscar-nominated scores, I would say this is by far his weakest effort. THE SKIN I LIVE IN is similarly bumpy, but its brighter moments actually shine brighter. There is simply not enough thematic material or meaningful music for this score to showcase what we know Iglesias can do. If you limit yourself to the five tracks I listed above, you may walk away thinking this is a decent score. As it stands, this album is about 40 minutes too long.

Rating: 4/10


Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 George Smiley 5:15  ***
2 Treasure 1:50  ***
3 Witchcraft 1:34  *
4 Islay Hotel 1:01  ***
5 Control 2:11  *
6 Polyakov 1:51  **
7 Alleline and Bland on the Roof 2:36  **
8 Safe House 1:44  **
9 Tarr and Irina 5:18  *
10 Anything Else? 3:38  **
11 Jim Prideaux 2:16  *
12 Thursgood 1:21  **
13 Karla 2:58  *
14 Esterhase 5:02  ****
15 Guillam 1:33  *
16 Control and Westerby 4:02  *
17 Circus 5:29  **
18 One's Gone 3:38  **
19 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy 5:59  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 59 minutes  


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