March of the Penguins/Wurman

April 22, 2006

March Of The Penguins

by

Alex Wurman

 

March Of The Penguins not only achieved a huge box office success for Luc Jacquet in 2005 but the prized Oscar for the best documentary. In fact one could argue that it was the best picture of the year! The true story that is told of the emperor penguin and the incredible challenge facing them to mate is beyond anything that words can describe. In March the emperor penguin begins this long arduous, perilous, seventy mile journey inland to a mating area. Once the mating occurs the female begins the journey back to the ocean to feed while the male carefully guards and keeps warm the egg. It is only after the hatching occurs and the female has returned that the male leaves for the ocean to feed. He returns also to help protect, feed, and care for the young penguin. There are times when the temperature can fall to 100 below! And yet somehow they survive. Eloquently told to the viewer by Morgan Freeman one learns the true meaning of courage by the end of the film.

The Alex Wurman score, orchestrated by Tom Calderaro, falls into the category of a new age sound and style. It is scored for strings, flutes, harp, vibes, percussion, piano, and a bassoon which produces a tranquil sound. The volume rarely moves past soft. Even in the dangerous moments in the film the volume hardly moves. The main theme, given to us by the piano, is repeated often enough in the score, to put in the memorable category. A theme which will likely appear on a future Milan compilation CD featuring peace and tranquility as a trademark and probably take its place as the first track. In fact one could make the statement that this is nearly perfect music for one to be on hold to, while waiting on the telephone! And I certainly mean this as a compliment! It is a CD that one could play in the evening before going to sleep or at anytime one is looking to relax and enjoy life. Yet when one listens more seriously to it there are many clever and wonderful aspects to it slightly hidden beneath the surface. "The March" has the strains and quirkiness Thomas Newman has made so famous, yet Alex puts his own brand on it too! With the use of the percussion, the shaking of the snow off of the penguin is translated into an audio sound one can just close your eyes to for a brief moment and visualize. "First Steps" is a comic reproduction of the newborn feeling their way around for the first time complete with the percussion pecking of the birds. The flute driven melody backed by strings, piano, and the bassoon is a perfect orchestration to this great track. In fact the bassoon is used in a humorous manner quite unlike the dark somber treatment it is usually given. My memories of the sound of the bassoon began with the depiction of the grandfather in Peter And The Wolf. This use of it is quite the opposite and a novel idea in the use of instrumentation. For being a graduate of media ventures and working on some bombastic Zimmer scores you would never know it from this series of tracks! Think chamber orchestra and you will have a much closer idea to the sound of this score. While the three minute average time per track is a minor point, it is just a nice little bonus. Some soundtracks can have fifteen or twenty fifty second tracks which can drive you crazy with the constant changing on your cd player.

There was much controversy about the Horner/Yared Troy scores. Pages and pages were written about it along with 1000's of posts as to the unfair replacement of Yared. To date the film Troy has grossed in the area of 137 million. On the otherhand Emile Simon was replaced with Alex Wurman in the US release and there has been little or no talk at all about it. Having had the opportunity to hear both scores the change to Alex was the correct one. The March Of The Penguins just for comparision has grossed 108 million dollars. Odd how things are viewed sometime! Warner Bros. has to be thrilled because the actors and actresses performed for free!

The Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra, Mixing and Mastering, and CD Cover artwork are all superb. Other than a paragraph from Alex Wurman there are no liner notes. And while apparently not important in a release like this, the more information you have about the film, score, composer etc. the better. But then this fine release goes far beyond the soundtrack collector. This is a good solid score that is recommended. You'll share my enthusiasm and not be disappointed.

Movie Music UK rating ***1/2

Produced by Alex Wurman

Recorded and Mixed by Samuel Lehmer

#Milan M2-36131

Total Time is 42 minutes

Track Listing:

1. The Harshest Place on Earth (3:57)

2. Walk Not Alone (:42)

3. The March (5:22)

4. Found Love (3:59)

5. The Egg Arrives (2:27)

6. The Mothers' Second Journey (2:01)

7. Arrival at the Sea (3:12)

8. Walk through Darkness (6:19)

9. First Steps (3:19)

10. The Dangers Remain (3:15)

11. Reunited (2:17)

12. Going Home for the First Time (4:43)

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