Patrick Gowers' score for the Grenada Television series about A. Conan Doyle's consulting detective has become almost as closely linked to Sherlock Holmes in the minds of fans as star Jeremy Brett (1933-1995). But those with no interest in Holmes can also enjoy this recording. Gowers' musical eloquence is richly displayed in these widely diverse, yet cohesive, tracks.
Gowers begins the recording with "221B Baker Street," the vivacious theme (performed on Holmes' instrument, the violin, by Kenneth Sillito) that brings to mind Holmes' classic alarm call, "Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot. Not a word!" The cohesiveness of the album comes from Gowers' variations on this theme found throughout the rest of the recording. But the diversity within this cohesiveness is what is remarkable. Gowers' compositions range from the energetic and mysterious to the introspective and poignant, from the noble quality of an Elgar-like march ("The Illustrious Lord Bellinger") to the surrealistic, synthesized sounds of "The Bar of Gold, Upper Swandam Lane." And on the way, it touches upon hints of a Negro spiritual, Christmas carols, and the liquescent sounds of English cathedral music ("Libera Me"). All the while, the composer never lets listeners forget the gas-lit London streets, the dark and murky Thames, and the fog-shrouded moors that were the heart of Holmes' detective dominion. Gowers not only composed these pieces, but also conducted the St. Paul's Cathedral Choir, the Gabrieli String Quartet, and the Wren Orchestra of London. The performances are excellent, as is the quality of the recording. It should be noted that this recording contains "The Death of Sherlock Holmes." This track has special significance for Holmes' aficionados, as Gowers' daughter, Katherine, played the composition on the violin at Jeremy Brett's funeral (during which performance, it was reported, many a tear was shed). This fact not only illustrates how Brett came to epitomize Holmes, but also how immensely successful Patrick Gowers was in composing a score that conveys the ethos of one of the most famous characters in all fiction.