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MP3: Frozen Planet (2011)
Review Rating:   Excellent  
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March 18, 2013

Tracks / Album Length:

32 tracks / (73:30)



George Fenton


Special Notes:


Comments :    

The BBC’s ongoing nature series have been a boon for George Fenton, giving him a broad range of creature subjects that live above, on top, and below ground, and spanning ocean bodies and all of Earth’s continents, but unlike prior series Life (2009), The Blue Planet (2001), and Planet Earth (2006), Frozen Planet is both modernistic and smaller-scaled in its sonic scope.

Fenton’s use of less grandiose sounds means there’s no need to establish an opulent, epic main theme that announces Wonderment or something Elegant and Hypnotic. FP is comprised of a short main theme which re-emerges in more chamber-styled guises, allowing for intimacy and fixed instrumental colours that capture the quirks of characters like penguins, bears, and seals, and the surreal atmosphere of the planet’s super-cooled environments. There are a few kinetic cues – “Flying Sound” has a revolving rhythmic figure with soft synth pulses and emerging orchestral tones from strings and brass – and Fenton does occasionally bring up the might of the orchestra, as in the elegantly ferocious “Elephant Sea Duel,” which mixes orchestral and minimalist synth chords - but FP is more of an emotionally focused work.

Amid several misty, eerie, and tense cues there is lighter fare, such as the wistful “Surfing Penguins,” and the waltzing “Stones” with pizzicato strings and lightly lumbering woodwinds. Woody vibes, brass, and woodwinds perfectly capture the curiosity and awkwardness of young pups in “Cubs First Hunt,” and “Leaping Penguins” captures the frolicking birds with airy flutes and cupped brass – a tongue-in-cheek sensibility that’s also carried over into the next cue, “Owlets / Protection.”

A handful of tracks run over 3 minutes, but their intermingling with more brief material doesn’t create an uneven flow of musical ideas. FP is one of Fenton’s best BBC scores, and especially classical in design, with periodic transgressions into jazz and modernism.

Silva’s album features a generous chunk of music, all beautifully mastered to show off the score’s crisp engineering and superb orchestrations. Performance nuances, which are a main feature to FP, are always up close, yet the miking scheme does present a fairly broad stereo spectrum.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan

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