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Dolphin Tale 2 (Rachel Portman)

September 30, 2014

Synchrotones’ Microtones Review… all of the opinion, less of the words.

Cover_DolphinTale2DOLPHIN TALE 2

Rachel Portman, 2014, Lakeshore Records
19 tracks, 49.27

What is it? 

“Dolphin Tale 2” is the hotly anticipated sequel to 2011’s “Dolphin Tale”; and it continues the story of the brave dolphin Winter, whose miraculous rescue and recovery –thanks to a groundbreaking prosthetic tail– made her a symbol of hope and perseverance to people around the world. Director Charles Smith returns as do most of the cast. Composer Mark Isham does not; and stepping up to the plate is Rachel Portman.

What does it sound like? Let’s be honest, Rachel Portman comes with certain expectations. Those expectations include ‘quality’ and ‘feel-good’, as well as ‘piano’ and ‘strings’. And that, alongside plenty of woodwinds and some brass, is exactly what “Dolphin Tale 2” delivers in spades.

The director was keen for the music to have strong melodies that could be threaded through the story,” Portman describes. “My first task was to come up with a theme for Winter. She has her own high flute melodic phrase which comes back several times through the course of the movie. It needed to be emotional and watery as well as easily identifiable with her.

That melody can be heard right from the start in “Reconciliation Ballet”. It’s a lovely, free-flowing, long-lined melody so typical for the likes of Portman and Horner. It’s such an uplifting and welcoming cue; especially seeing as it often feels like this type of writing has gone out of fashion. You won’t find any horns of doom or thunderous percussion here. The closest this score comes to an action cue are “Mandy’s Rescue” (with some electronic percussion) and the second half of “1st Pairing” (with double-basses and piano thumping along). Elsewhere, fans of James Horner may have a little chuckle at the opening of “Hazel Put in Charge”, as well as at the twinkly piano and bells in “Reconciliation Ballet”.

Portman always keep her music moving, through melodies or soft staccato rhythms on the strings, even when there’s not a great deal going on. Still, large portions of the score may pass by unnoticed, perfectly nice though they are. Where the score really comes to live are those cues were the themes and bouncy strings are allowed to soar. Particularly cues like the aforementioned “Reconciliation Ballet”, “Morning Show” and “They’re Accepting” amongst a few others.

Is it any good? “Dolphin Tale 2” is a lovely, innocent little score full of warm harmonies and lush melodies. Its style feels like a throwback to the 90s. It’s everything you’d expect from a Rachel Portman score — for better or worse. It’s hard to fault this score, other than it’s a bit half a dozen or six of the other. For that reason, I can’t really give it top marks. But… how can you not love those lush strings, the flowing melodies and the overall feel-good mood that oozes from every note!

Rating [3/5]

Review by Pete Simons, (c) Synchrotones

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