Rachel Portman has written many beautiful movie scores which include the music for 'Chocolat', 'The Cider House Rules' and 'The Duchess'. She won an Academy Award for her gorgeous score for 'Emma' - making her the first woman to do so.

Ask The River marks Portman's first album that was scored as a stand alone project. It features gorgeous piano (played by Portman) and instrumental reflections on the natural world.

The collection of pieces was composed throughout 2019 and was inspired by her love of nature.

“What can be more inspiring than the green shoots of new beech leaves appearing in the woods with the dappling light reflected in the spring breeze?
These pieces are a personal reflection on the beauty of the earth around us – the trees, flora, rivers, birds, animals and all her gifts to us. I hope you enjoy exploring them as much as I loved being inspired by the natural world.”

Portman has an incredible ability to create expansive, nuanced soundscapes that are full of emotion and colour. Compared to her sweeping cinematic scores Ask The River is on a much more intimate scale, which emphasises her personal connection with the natural world. This is further reinforced by the titles of the pieces.

There is a beautiful gentle and meandering feel that is evident throughout the whole album. I highly recommend listening to it while out walking in nature, it somehow heightens the connection to the natural world and evokes a beautiful stillness and sense of appreciation.

Many of the pieces have a sober, even melancholy introspection, reflecting Portman's concerns about the planet and environment. But the overall tone is light and thought provoking. My personal favourites are Much Loved, Flight and Recollection.

I feel that this album was released at the perfect time to coincide with the fact that many of us have found that reconnecting with the natural world to be a great way of restoring some serenity to our days, especially this year.

If you play the piano or harp it may interest you to know that there is a book of arrangements available for the album which has been personally curated by Portman. I'm definitely going to add it to my wishlist!

with love,
Samantha