Australian film director Chris Noonan and score composer Nigel Westlake seem to achieve something special each time they work together, although it is far too early to compare them with the great picture-music collaborators of cinema (Spielberg/Williams, Tsukamoto/Ishikawa...). Interestingly, the main theme from Miss Potter is similar in style to that of the Babe movies, however the composition isn’t. All through the soundtrack, Westlake seems to favour piano and clarinet as his storytelling tools, and this works extremely well. Fellow composer Rachel Portman adds some flavour to the soundtrack as well, composing additional music for the movie alongside Westlake’s inspired arrangements.
The opening track "Miss Potter" makes quite an impression, with its many variations, soft string patches, and lovely piano sequences; this sets the tone for the entire soundtrack. The warmth displayed here is reminiscent of Westlake’s Babe soundtrack (1995). "The Park", composed by Rachel Portman (who composed the score for Oliver Twist in 2005), introduces more of the same magic, with featherlike wind instruments emerging throughout; Westlake's brilliance becomes apparent when orchestrating the wind instrumental sections: they contain so much mystery, sincerity, and passion. The piano work is somewhat uncomplicated but manages to convey Chris Noonan's vision, as well as the film's much needed liveliness. The tone of these pieces bring the "emotional moments" from Alan Silvestri's Back to the Future III score to mind, despite the difference in orchestration. The sound grows even deeper in tracks "A Bunny Book to Conjure with'", truly entrancing in its instrumentation.
"The Story of Peter Rabbit" conveys a feeling of immediacy and restlessness, with Westlake's trademark clarinet swaying beautifully alongside the piano. Many light-hearted tracks follow suite, while the piano grows more mature in some places. "Jemima Puddle Duck" has to be the most gorgeous track on the album, with its cascading notes, and uninterrupted melodies that give the impression that they are melting onto one another. Tracks “The Rabbits’ Christmas Party”, “Mr. Warne!” and “Beatrix and Norman” are variations based upon the movie’s main theme; however, they do not have the same impact, and tend to venture into the same musical patterns all too often. Despite being the shortest track, “Return to London” brings more variety to the soundtrack, introducing sinister tones and a mournful clarinet; this is also the case with the following track “Beatrix Locks Herself Away”. Katie Melua, with her angelic voice, concludes the album nicely with an exclusive song entitled “When you Taught me how to Dance”, based upon the main theme.
Miss Potter is a very nice soundtrack with some moments of pure magic. All this sets stage for future Noonan-Westlake collaborations. This soundtrack is available at the following locations: Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
Shortly before the release of the film and soundtrack, mfiles conducted an interview with Nigel Westlake where the composer talks in depth about the film score.