WILLIAMS The Adventures of Tintin • John Williams, cond; Studio O • SONY 88697975882 (65:44)
After a three-year absence to the regret of symphonic film-music fans who are tired of gloomy synthesizer-driven scores, John Williams has forcefully reappeared with two large-scale orchestral scores for Steven Spielberg blockbusters. There were even rumors that the 80-year-old composer was retiring after The Adventures of Tintin and Read more style="font-style:italic">War Horse, but it has now been verified that at the very least he will be doing Spielberg’s mega production of Lincoln, due for release next Christmas. The prospect of Williams scoring an epic biography of Lincoln is enough to make his many fans drool. The Adventures of Tintin has already grossed more than $250 million overseas, and because of the popularity of Hergé’s stories in Europe, it seems as if it will be a rare example of an action adventure that makes more moncy there than in the United States. The solid Spielbergian story of redemption and self worth may not be popular these days with critics, but it will still sell tickets.
Tintin is first and foremost characterized by its nonstop pace and technical razzle-dazzle. The numerous action sequences give Williams plenty of opportunities for flashy music. No one in Hollywood now, with the possible exception of Michael Giacchino, could come up with this kind of score, and Giacchino has not yet shown that he can integrate so many melodies and variations in such a virtuosic fashion. The Main Title sequence is a jazz-inflected, self-contained instrumental tour de force in the style of Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal, but is better than both of them. It runs over memorably quirky visuals that could have been created by Saul Bass, and includes fleeting references to the Cantina Band music from Star Wars. Tintin is an orchestral showpiece on the level of Hook, but with more of a transparent chamber feel to it. There are shades of Harry Potter and sly references to the Imperial March from the Star Wars films and the main theme from The Fury. There are so many complex interactions with the copious thematic material that the relentless, animated, Indiana Jones-type action rarely degenerates into loud and repetitive note-spinning like the seemingly endless Desert Chase sequence from Raiders of the Lost Ark (that music works well in the picture, but not as a listening experience on the CD). Williams accomplishes all of this with a fairly standard orchestra, plus saxophones, accordion, guitar, piano, and harpsichord. The only negative for Williams fans will be that the score lacks an epic theme in the Star Wars-Superman-E.T mold. Some may also complain that it is more technically brilliant than lovable, but Williams’s music matches the visuals perfectly, as always. Beware the source cue where Renée Fleming sings an aria from Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, climaxing with an explosion of shattered glass that is important to the plot but unlistenable on the CD.
The soundtrack recording contains all of the meaningful music in the film with spectacular and aggressive (but not harsh), closely miked sound. On a good system, the bass drum is stunning. With the Tintin score, you have to go with the (fast) flow. Williams hasn’t lost a beat. In fact, it sounds as if he thoroughly enjoyed doing this. Play the demonstration recording loud and marvel at what Williams can do with a large orchestra.
Another great score by John WilliamsApril 14, 2013By Dorothea Collins (Saline, MI)See All My Reviews"I've been enjoying this exciting movie music even though I haven't seen the movie! Heard it first on my favorite radio station, WRCJ in Detroit and knew I wanted it in my collection. Being a pianist, I really love some of the "licks" he wrote for the piano in the score. I may even want to see the movie now!"Report Abuse