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Deep Blue - by George Fenton

George Fenton - Deep Blue album CD cover The BBC has an unrivalled reputation for the range and quality of its natural history programmes. While the majority of these focus on wildlife on land "The Blue Planet" series was devoted to life in the oceans. The camerawork was superb and meticulous as ever but life in the oceans, while visually stunning, is not as rich when it comes to sounds audible to human ears. They called upon George Fenton to provide a musical backdrop to the series, which met with such immediate success that it was swiftly released on soundtrack. That music captured the imagination as much as the fascinating creatures that it accompanied, and the concept of "The Blue Planet" and Fenton's music has continued in other forms. There have been concert performances of "The Blue Planet Live" based on the original music, performed at venues across the globe and accompanied by evocative images of sea life. Now BBC Worldwide and Greenlight Media have co-produced a feature-length documentary film which will have a cinema release. Called "Deep Blue" this film is the result of a huge effort across the globe to capture on film some of the most extraordinary sights of life upon, within or far below the ocean waves. While eyes are captured by the visual spectacle, it is again the music of George Fenton which entrances the ears.

The music of "Deep Blue" has been written specifically for this film, but it bears a resemblance to its predecessor. It is in the same general style, impressionist yet melodic in spirit, and it quotes a few thematic ideas from the original series as would any film sequel. But of course the music must be tailored to suit the message, the pace and the mood of each segment of the experience, and Fenton is a master at this art. Some tracks go straight for spectacle, while others recognise that nature is not always beautiful with most species in a constant struggle for survival. Still other tracks recognise the undersea environment as something completely alien to our own experience. Many of the tracks are for full orchestra with Fenton expertly conducting The Berlin Philharmonic, the first time this classical orchestra has worked on a film. Other tracks use smaller forces of only a few instruments highlighting the more delicate underwater scenes, including some instrumental groupings more akin to a latin or jazz band. There are also some brief uses of electronically produced sounds and effects. Once again Fenton has created something which truly enhances some unique visuals, while more than capable of captivating listeners as a soundtrack experience. The recording itself is excellent in quality, with a crystal-like clarity and attention to detail. We can recommend both the film and the soundtrack to anyone who enjoyed the original series on television. The album CD is available from

Deep Blue by George Fenton - CD Track listing:

  • Bounty Hunters - a good introductory piece, linking back to the original by using themes from the "Sardine Run" and "Blue Planet" tracks
  • Airwaves
  • The Beach in Patagonia
  • Metamorphosis - a good example of the alien world treatment, with subtle synth effects
  • Surf and Sand - has a jazzy, latin-caribbean feel with some synth sounds
  • Coral Riches - mostly for woodwing and strings, initially mysterious then relaxed and peaceful
  • Free to Roam - seems to swell with the waves
  • The Kelp Forest - an evocactive track based around acoustic instruments with some restrained digital effects
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Polar Landscape
  • Flying Emperors - based on ideas from "Emperors" from the original series
  • Wolf Pack - brass and timpani herald an action track
  • The Wanderers
  • Showtime - reminder of the Greek dance from "Spinning Dolphins"
  • Mounting Pressure - full orchestra and chorus plus sonar sound effects
  • The Spinning Baitball - builds upon "Baitball"
  • Deep Blue - brings the work full circle, closing with that sense of awe and reverance that only nature can demand

Barely a year after its cinematic release, BBC 1 has already broadcast the film "Deep Blue", so watch the schedules to see when it is repeated.