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Soundtrack review: Tale of the forest (Metsan tarina) (Panu Aaltio – 2012)


Soundtrack review: Tale of the forest (Metsan tarina) (Panu Aaltio – 2012)


“Tale of the forest” (“Metsan tarina” in Finnish) is a 2012 documentary that unveils the primeval forests of Northern Finland, some of Europe’s sole remaining, old-growth forests. I like nature documentaries and I especially like their sound. Ambient music is probably my favorite genre and there’s rarely a more fertile ground for it than one such documentary. And when the score is written by Panu Aaltio the expectations are even higher. I love his music ever since I first heard “The house of dark butterflies”.

Besides ambient music I am also a big fan or Nordic composers. The Finnish, Icelandic or Norwegian school of film music has a certain sound, a little darker and a little heavier than most, a sound that appeals to me more than others. I like the quietness and, sometimes, even the void that sound creates. I was expecting a winter score but I shouldn’t have been, right? What tales can you tell of forests in winter… you need the joy of spring, the blossoming on flowers, the awakening of nature and the playfulness of the creatures that populate the forest. I need to forget the bloom and join the notes in a wonderful celebration of life. Panu Aaltio wrote a beautiful score which has no shadows other than the comforting ones the trees make.

As I listen to this score I try and associate the various instruments with elements from nature. For me the flute sounds play the chirping or baby birds or the soft growls of baby animals. Every time a flute motif comes along I imagine a new life. When the piano rushes in I get the image of a spring flowing rapidly, quenching the thirst of countless animals down the river. The strings are the wind of the evening changing the external conditions.

“Tale of the forest” is a beautiful orchestral score which can work for any mood a listener might have. You don’t have to have a certain state of mind in order to enjoy it. This is the kind of universal music that appeals to everything and everyone. Panu Aaltio speaks in a language that nobody will have trouble relating to. There’s enough variety in here to satisfy everyone. It left me two conflicting desires: one to be in nature and the other to be in a concert hall, preferably exactly when this score was recorded.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 25 / 51

Album excellence: 48%


The Tale of a Forest

The Little Ones

A Midsummer Treasure

Days Gone By

Ant Kingdom

Love, Care and Respect

The World Tree


A Forest Adventure

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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