I have to admit loving this score from the first moment I heard it which must have been back in 2013/2014. Music in documentaries has come a long way in the past decade and the music for wildlife programmes or series seems to be a genre of documentary that just cries out for powerful and haunting scores. RUSSLAND or WILD RUSSIA is an epic series of films that contain stunning and commanding images and these images needed equally powerful, thoughtful and majestic music to enhance, support and enrich the events that are being filmed. RUSSLAND is a regal and lush sounding work and a score that is filled to overflowing with rousing, lilting and melancholy musical passages. Composer Kolja Erdmann has fashioned a soundtrack that is not only attractive and engrossing but one that is emotive, poignant, romantic and at times dark and fearful. There is a rawness to the music that goes hand in hand with the unforgiving terrain of Siberia and a softness and fragility that accompanies the ever uncertain world of the wild and its inhabitants. The score is beautifully written and is also for the most part symphonic although the composer does employ electronic support in a handful of cues, which works with the conventional instrumentation to create delicious sounding pieces that are vibrant and fresh. The music has a lavish and rich sound that is purveyed by brass, string and wood sections that are augmented and given greater impact via the use of, rumbling percussion and mesmerising choral work and solo voice performances. In many ways the soundtrack reminded me a lot of FIRE AND SWORDS by Polish composer Krzesimir Debski, it has that kind of style and creates both an exciting and melodic aura The release of the music for the series is just a selection of the highlights of the scores, containing the principal themes and I hope that someday soon the entire soundtrack may get a release. You might have difficulty getting the CD release as it was scarce when the series was new, but I can tell you that it is available on both I Tunes and Spotify. This is an entertaining score and also an intriguing and interesting one, my advice seek it out and be amazed. It is a truly stunning work.
BARBACANA is documentary that focuses upon the life of wolves but does this in an unusual way. It successfully weaves together three separate stories, and brings them together to showing us the importance of the wolf in Iberian ecosystems. We see the birth of cubs and get to know the day to day occurrences within the wolf family. The wolf is a creature that has loomed it seems forever in folklore and is also an animal that can produce emotions of fear, hatred and love within humans. The three stories are cleverly put together and filmed by director Arturo Menor and his vision and images are wonderfully supported and enhanced by the music of composer Javier Arnanz. The score for the movie, because that is what it is, being far more than a documentary is lush and emotive, dramatic and poignant and powerfully haunting. The music is largely symphonic by the sound of it and the composer from time to time adds flourishes of synthetics to bolster the conventional instrumentation, with some interesting percussive pieces punctuating the duration of the soundtrack, these manifest themselves within cues that are of the action variety as in THE HUNTER, ON THE HUNT and SICK DEER. This is a soundtrack of the highest quality and a score that one can listen to over and over without tiring of it, In some ways it has to it a Barry-esque sound, I think because of the composers use of choir and horns that are also supported by lavish and highly melodic strings at times. There are a number of moments within the work that for me evoked John Barry’s epic score for THE LAST VALLEY, as in the cues, THE FLIGHT OF THE CRANES, WOLVES PLAYING, BARBACANA (main theme) and JOSEPH AND MARY. The composer subtly combining lilting strings, delicate piano solos and soft sounding tone poems with faraway horns and a choir that creates a near celestial atmosphere. The comparison I make with John Barry is an honest one and I am also of the opinion that Arnanz creates some beautifully written melodies which are performed by solo violin and cello that are not a million miles away from the work of Morricone and Frizina. There are also performances for solo voice that add depth atmosphere and substance to the work. BARBACANA is a delight and also a surprise, it is one of those scores that one would probably flick past in a browser in a music shop, as I am not certain it received a release outside of Spain. When I say I recommend this score, I truly mean it, it is a work that you will return to many many times, filled with delighting musical themes, emotive and tender nuances and its fair share of commanding and exciting musical sequences.