Concert Review: Planet Earth Live at the Barbican

The Attenborough spectacular comes to the stage - and makes for a joyous and life-affirming show

If, like me, you spent most of the autumn glued to the BBC nature documentary Frozen Planet, then the premise of Planet Earth live will sound like a dream come true.

Select footage of Planet Earth, the prequel to the recent series, were shown on an enormous HD screen in the Barbican Theatre, while the BBC Symphony Orchestra played along live conducted by George Fenton, the man who composed the original music.

Originally planned as a one-off show, although a tour may be scheduled this year, the sense of excitement was palpable amongst the sell out crowd.

Mr Fenton introduced each short section of footage, explaining what was about to happen on screen, before he and the orchestra let rip.


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It is no exaggeration to say this was one of the most joyous and life-affirming shows I have ever seen.

The dynamics of the live music perfectly captured the incredible scenes on display, from muted tones as baby ducks took there first steps, to a bold timpani and dense strings as a great white shark rose majestically from the ocean to bite a struggling seal.

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The movement directly after the interval, which saw the changing of the seasons captured in time-lapse photography, was astoundingly beautiful.

Then, the crowning moment for me - as Mr Fenton asked the crowd to show the appreciation for David Attenborough I looked around and there he was, sat right behind me, close enough to have been narrating in my ear.

Planet Earth Live is a triumphant celebration of both the natural world and the BBC’s skill in recording it, and I am sure it will be making a return in 2012.

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