Deep Blue is a feature film documentary exploring the wonders of the world's oceans, edited from the 8 part BBC TV series The Blue Planet: A Natural History of The Oceans (2001). The original TV series was scored by George Fenton, and performed by the BBC Philharmonic and Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford, with additional electronic score performed by the composer and David Lawson. Deep Blue cuts around 400 minutes of screen time down to around 90, concentrating on set-piece drama and spectacle – though a 35mm multiplex movie can never hope to compete with the visual magnificence of IMAX natural history documentaries – and replaces David Attenborough's original narration with one by Michael Gambon. George Fenton is back through, reworking his original score and recording it with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford, with electronics performed by David Lawson. Orchestrations originally were by Geoffrey Alexander, while now there are additional orchestrations by Julian Kershaw and Simon Chamberlain.
Direct comparison between the original and revised scores proves difficult because although the original album ran 55.14 minutes with 16 tracks and the new disc plays exactly six minutes longer with 17 tracks, all the titles are different – even when the music is the same, or virtually the same. That said, where The Blue Planet was a grand, romantic score filled with typical Fenton trademarks, Deep Blue, as befits its cinematic status, is grander still. The lightweight electronic cues which, while attractive enough in their own very different way, detracted from the epic grandeur of The Blue Planet, are less intrusive here ('Surf and Sand' excepted). This time electronics are generally limited to mysterious atmospheres and textures, the whole – from the stirring main theme onwards – playing as symphonic accompaniment to the majesty, beauty, terror and inhuman scale of the world's oceans in a way which may be compared with Vaughan Williams' glorious score for Scott of The Antarctic (1948).
If you already have the original The Blue Planet album it may be hard to justify adding this new version of virtually the same music to your collection, but here the sound is decidedly clearer than on the original and the performances have an extra depth and focus. There is six minutes more music too, which for some may just give this new set the further edge. Highly recommended for fans of George Fenton's richly romantic and descriptive music.