While fans of the hugely popular BBC adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective novels had to wait 18 months to get their hands on the original score for the first series, the official soundtrack to the second arrived just weeks after its intriguing finale pulled in a massive eight million viewers. Composed yet again by Michael Price (Band of Brothers) and David Arnold (James Bond), its 19 instrumentals pursue a similar minimal and suitably suspenseful classical sound as its BAFTA/Emmy-nominated predecessor, from the haunting violin solo of "Irene's Theme" (the opening track dedicated to the ruthless dominatrix who appeared in A Scandal in Belgravia), to the unsettling percussion and eerie sound effects of "Pursued by a Hound" (from a pivotal scene in The Hounds of Baskerville), to the unbearably intense orchestral crescendo of "Prepared to Do Anything" (the climactic number from the watercooler final episode, The Reichenbach Fall).
What the world needs more of is intelligently planned, stupendously played, and brilliantly recorded collections like this one. These two discs contain all the piano works of Michael Tippett, works that come from every period of the composer's very long life except his very last. It includes the youthful, tuneful Piano Sonata No. 1 written between 1936 and 1938 and revised in 1941, the massive Fantasia on a Theme of Handel from 1941, the exuberant Piano Concerto from 1955, the experimental Piano Sonata No. 2, the gnomic almost Beethovenian Piano Sonata No. 3 from 1973, and the gnarly post-Beethovenian Piano Sonata No. 4. It features a bravura performance by pianist Steven Osborne that makes the best case for all the music, no matter how outré or recherché its harmonic proclivities or rhythmic audacities. Osborne has the emotional enthusiasm, intellectual clarity, physical strength, and sheer willpower to make listeners believe that Tippett is a major English composer and make them wonder why they ever doubted it. With the superlative accompaniment of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Martyn Brabbins in the Concerto and the Fantasia and the sparkling recording by Andrew Keener for Hyperion, this disc marks a major step forward in the Tippett discography.