PLANET EARTH – Re-Issue 2 CD Set

PLANET EARTH composed by George Fenton
Remastered Album Release date: 16th March 2018

This is a breathtakingly rich score, beautifully orchestrated with cues full of emotion and wondrous moments of sheer beauty.

Silva Screen Records Press Release:
Two welcome additions to Silva Screen’s BBC Earth catalogue, featuring soundtracks to the critically acclaimed BBC landmark natural history documentaries.
Released on 16th March, The Blue PIanet and Planet Earth are newly remastered albums, both original scores by the acclaimed composer George Fenton. For the score of The Blue Planet (2001) George Fenton won The lvor Novello, Bafta and Emmy for Best Television Score, whilst for the score of Planet Earth (2006) he won his second Emmy.

Produced by the BBC and narrated by David Attenborough, The Blue Planet series was watched by more than 12 million people when it aired on BBC1 in September 2001. lt has since become a global phenomenon, showing in more than 50 countries. Similar success was repeated by PIanet Earth.  The 11-part High Definition documentary series was, by June 2007, seen in 130 countries.

I distinctly remember watching Planet Earth and thinking it way beyond the scratchy school’s video’s I watched at school. It was like nothing else I had seen and being already tuned into film and tv music I remember the music being superb. Listening to it now, it still is. Presented in 11 categories it is a musical symphony to the world.

The Journey of the Sun dictates Fenton’s reachable, classical style. Gentle violins and a solo horn feel as if they are floating in orbit. Elephants in the Okavango captures both the majesty and playfulness of these magnificent mammals. Diving Into leads with a female voice which gives a feel of the centuries of history, a fitting cue for the 2nd category of caves whilst Diving Into Darkness is beautifully ambient. In the Freshwater section there a pulse almost akin to underwater breathing.

Onto ‘Mountains’ and the cue for the old world Gelades monkeys depicts the ferocity of these baboons with tones of wariness shown in the strings. The Karakorum depicts the plains and rich history of Mongolia. We travel into the Desert Winds. The Locusts is a track full of wondrous strings, this is a magnificent cue painting a vast scope with a gentle force. In the Land of Shallow Seas and the antics of Surfing Dolphins – both are busy and joyful cues of brass and strings. Dangerous Landing makes good use of the kettle drum followed by the mellow Mother and Calf-The Great Journey, geared towards the emotions with the grandeur of the string section, which is simply beautiful. A cue dedicated to fungus – The Cordecyps has an eeriness played out with clarinet and chimes which suits these somewhat strange and other worldly organisms. The Redwoods is a fitting majestic piece symbolised by trumpet and strings. This is followed by a comic , track called Fledglings with a slight hint of a tango at the start and pizzicato strings.

Ice World next with trumpet opening The Humpbacks Bubblenet and another dance comes to mind as the orchestra momentarily waltzes. A clumsy jaunt is played out on the strings in Everything Leaves but The Emperors, bass and percussion takes over giving an excellent backing for waddling penguins.

Planet Earth aired on UK tv in 2006 so the poignancy of The Disappearing Sea Ice is fairly low key, with plaintive voice and cornet. 12 years on if re-composed I am sure this would have been an even more low-key cue. It ends with The Choice Is Ours, a moving track about our future and the responsibility we have towards our planet. The underlying cello’s echo the dangers and the sad strings are telling.

This is a breathtakingly rich score, beautifully orchestrated with cues full of emotion and wondrous moments of sheer beauty. This re-issue sounds very fresh and I was totally engulfed in it. The CD booklet also has a stunning set of photo’s from the series.

Composed and duction by George Fenton
Performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra

Disc 1:
1. From Pole To Pole: Prelude  1:57
2. From Pole To Pole: The Journey Of The Sun  3:28
3. From Pole To Pole: Hunting Dogs  3:26
4. From Pole To Pole: Elephants in the Okavango  3:07
5. Caves: Diving into the Darkness  3:01
6. Caves: Stalactite Gallery  2:26
7. Caves: Bat Hunt  2:59
8. Caves: Discovering Deer Cave  3:49
9. Freshwater: Angel Falls  2:21
10. Freshwater: River Predation  4:09
11. Freshwater: Iguacu  2:06
12. Freshwater: The Snow Geese  2:01
13. Mountains: The Geladas  2:39
14. Mountains: The Snow Leopard  4:00
15. Mountains: The Karakoram  1:54
16. Mountains: The Earth’s Highest Challenge  5:31
17. Deserts: Desert Winds – The Locusts  4:58
18. Deserts: Fly Catchers  1:42
19. Deserts: Namibia – The Lions and the Oryx  5:10
Disc Time: 60:44

Disc 2:
1. Great Plains: Plains High and Low  2:41
2. Great Plains: The Wolf and The Caribou  3:47
3. Great Plains: Tibet (Reprise) – Close  3:46
4. Shallow Seas: Surfing Dolphins  2:41
5. Shallow Seas: Dangerous Landing  3:20
6. Shallow Seas: Mother and Calf – The Great Journey  5:19
7. Jungles: The Canopy – Flying Lemur  2:45
8. Jungles: Frog Ballet – Jungle Falls  2:37
9. Jungles: The Cordyceps  2:55
10. Jungles: Hunting Chimps  4:10
11. Seasonal Forests: The Redwoods  4:39
12. Seasonal Forests: Fledglings  3:43
13. Seasonal Forests: Seasonal Change  5:40
14. Ice Worlds: Discovering Antarctica  2:42
15. Ice Worlds: The Humpbacks’ Bubblenet  2:59
16. Ice Worlds: Everything Leaves but the Emperors  2:27
17. Ice Worlds: The Disappearing Sea Ice  3:45
18. Ice Worlds: Lost in the Storm  1:16
19. Ocean Deep: A School of Five Hundred  3:39
20. Ocean Deep: Giant Mantas  2:50
21. Ocean Deep: Life Near the Surface  2:06
22. Ocean Deep: The Choice is Ours  3:13
Disc Time: 73:00
Total Album Time: 133:4

High-Rise Soundtrack Review


Having got sucked in not by the actual film trailer but a teaser which is an advertisement to encourage you to go and live in the self sustained High-Rise, I then watched the trailer proper which is using Tangerine Dream as it’s back music. It seemed to suit the isolation I felt when looking at the soundtrack’s minimalist artwork. I was eager to listen.
Reading director Ben Wheatley’s swear ridden, true heart talk writing on his contacting, meeting and working with composer Clint Mansell in the CD’s sleeve notes and then the appreciative, fan fed response from Mansell – fan on fan .. I was more eager to listen.

J.G Ballard’s book set in a dystonia future telling of a high rise of embedded class structure where humans face their base, primal instincts has been in the making for over 30 years. At one time Nicolas Roeg was to direct and also David Cronenberg. And here we are last with Ben Wheatley at the helm and I am eager to see it.

The score opens with Critical Mass, a fanfare of violins with a ‘pioneer’ feel to it. It brags of success and ends on an eerie tone that almost tags straight onto the following track Silent Corridors featuring  a lone whistler – whistling in soundtracks has always freaked me out. If used over menacing music it highlights that the whistler is unhinged, in a ‘happy/carefree’ world of their own whilst the music is shouting something horrible is happening.
The World Beyond The High-Rise is a beautiful cue with a 3 note leitmotif which somehow manages to portray hope in an off-kilter world. It also has a tenderness about it. I played it three times before I could move on. The Circle of Women hitches back on to the opening track, which both have a feel of Aaron Copland in them.
Built, Not For Man, But For Man’s Absence has a pulse to it, not an urgency but a steady pulse perhaps symbolising the lifeline of the High-rise itself, this is used in several tracks. The malice which comes through in Danger In The Streets Of The Sky would fit a 1940’s film noir movie perfectly. It’s sudden, discordant brass notes displace and disturb – this is one of the best cues. Strike that as there isn’t a flawed track on this score!
A Royal Flying School soars then broods with Mansell’s legendary use of ‘strange’ instruments and is taken over by dominant percussion. And as for the closing track Blood Garden – there are so many genre ‘bytes’ which meld together here. Again I listened three times in a row with pure fascination.

It’s always a challenge to use the written word to describe how something sounds and no more so than in reviewing this superb score which truly has to be experienced. Cinematic in scope and beautifully orchestrated, I can’t do it justice and can only say that this year has to deliver something astonishing for me not to mark this as my ‘Best Score’. In many ways it’s not just how it sounds but what it conjures up and the Ballard world it is inhabiting.

“The soundtrack sounded incredible in the cinema, ” I was very f**king happy indeed…Revel in the sound of a bombastic and hubristic 70s that was doomed to failure…Enjoy.”
Ben Wheatley

1. Critical Mass
2. Silent Corridors
3. The World Beyond The High-Rise
4. The Vertical City
5. The Circle Of Women
6. “Built, Not For Man, But For Man’s Absence”
7. Danger In The Streets Of The Sky
8. “œSomehow The High-Rise Played Into The Hands Of The Most Petty Impulse”
9. Cine-Camera Cinema
10. A Royal Flying School
11. The Evening’s Entertainment
12. Blood Garden

Label: Silva Screen