James Horner has composed an incredible soundtrack for Steven Spielberg's animated masterpiece, Balto. Easily as good as some of his other works, such as The Land Before Time and An American Tail, this soundtrack uses very emotional and very minor-pitch themes to paint a vivid picture of the Alaskan wilderness.
Some of the better tracks on the CD:
2. Main Title / Balto's Story Unfolds -- This is where you hear Balto's theme for the first time. Sad and beautiful, it appears for a short time and then changes into more cheerful music. Later on in the track, as the story switches to the dogsled race, the tension in the music builds and finally explodes into a long section of heart-pounding action music.
6. The Journey Begins -- From the very beginning, this track alternates between driving energy and reflective, emotional sections. Balto's theme is heard halfway through the track in possibly one of the most sorrowful and moving variations in the entire soundtrack.
8. Jenna / Telegraphing the News -- Jenna's theme, played here in its entirety, is a very beautiful blend of strings and woodwinds. Her theme transitions into one of the most powerful moments in the movie: the desperate telegraph for help. To create a musical version of Morse code, James Horner used flutes and violins to play literal "dots" and "dashes" which then builds into the powerful cello/horn-driven Balto's theme.
11. Heritage of the Wolf -- Corresponding to the famous "White Wolf Scene" from the movie, this track starts off very mournfully and builds into the spine-tingling choral passage of the Northern Lights. The next section is easily the most climactic music on the entire soundtrack. A quiet melody starting with the chorus and a few strings gradually adds more instruments and grows in intensity until it breaks out into Balto's theme in all of its tragic beauty. It is almost impossible to listen to this passage without feelings chills of some kind, or even tearing up. It is very similar in climactic style to track 13 ("Breakout") on the Dinosaur soundtrack.
12. Balto Brings the Medicine! -- Somehow, James Horner is able to take all of the mournful and tragic themes from the soundtrack and weave them together to make a triumphant and victorious celebration. Balto's theme grows from beautiful simplicity in the middle of the track to an emotional full orchestra and chorus at the end. At the end of the celebratory music, it climaxes with the choral finale of the Northern Lights, leaving the listener breathless.
Unfortunately, this soundtrack is out-of-print and not very well known, but this doesn't detract from the fact that Balto is easily one of the most powerful examples of a minor-key soundtrack that contains some of the most emotional music ever written.