DALLAS -- The success of the new concert Planet Earth Live, unveiled Friday by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, rests on the stunning cinematography projected in the Meyerson Symphony Center. It's from the BBC/Discovery show Planet Earth, which captures the beauty of the world's most intimidating habitats.
The concert took a packed house to the Himalaya mountains, the Arctic tundra, deep caves and flowering jungle -- with every sunrise, dust cloud and ocean wave made more magnificent by George Fenton's soundtrack, played with Fenton on the podium, introducing each of 12 scenes.
It was a moving, majestic spectacle, where we met some of nature's most majestic creatures: elephants, polar bears (and two cubs), dolphins and snow leopards.
But more than individual animals, Planet Earth Live focused on the big picture: the seasons, mountains, deserts and grasslands, and the great migrations of land and sky. Effective emotional underscoring was generated by the DSO's stellar playing -- sweet string and woodwind colors, bold, brassy climaxes and the haunting vocalizing of soloist Haley Glennie-Smith.
Fenton's music sets up the competing narrative of the hunter (foxes, wolves, crocodiles) and the prey (geese, caribou, water buffalo). Heroic sounds showcase great vistas and vast migrations, but are not without comedy.
The best is the Richard Strauss-style accompaniment as baby ducks plunged out of their nests on their first, downy flights.
The show includes one-of-a-kind shots of snow leopards nuzzling (against a sorrowful cello solo); eagles snatching cranes from the air; and dolphins herding bait fish for waiting seabirds.
Planet Earth Live finds the ideal blend of live symphonic music, story-telling and stunning nature video. Fenton will conduct the concert this summer with orchestras in other cities.
When it returns to the area -- and it must -- Planet Earth Live is a must-see.