J.R.R. Tolkien's legendary trilogy Lord of the Rings has inspired millions of readers for several generations while also spawning an era in fantasy-based literature. Composer and multi-instrumentalist David Arkenstone loved the three books ( Fellowship of the Rings, Two Towers, and Return of the King ) from his first reading in the early '70s, and has toyed for years with the notion of recording music based on his great passion for them. In becoming one of new age music's most popular and diverse artists since the late '80s, the Grammy nominee has recorded three original fantasy story-based projects he directly attributes to Tolkien's influence: In the Wake of the Wind, Quest of the Dream Warrior, and Return of the Guardians. Recording with a group of outside musicians under the name the Elbereth Orchestra, David Arkenstone and his multi-instrumentalist wife, Diane Arkenstone, finally achieve a lifelong dream with Lord of the Rings, an exciting, multifaceted impressionistic tribute to this fascinating literary landmark. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the release of this project coincides with the major motion-picture release of Fellowship of the Ring. The Arkenstones recorded with Pro Tools, putting their own instrumentation together with a handful of outside musicians, all playing a wide variety of conventional and exotic instruments. Diane plays hammer dulcimer, while David plays (for the first time) the melodica (keyboard harmonica), mandolin, and bouzouki; guest star Don Markese chimes in with instruments like the Armenian duduk, Chinese bawu, and bansuri flute. "Prelude/Hobbits From the Shire" combines a sweeping orchestral prelude with a happy walking song that introduces the main characters, Hobbits from the Shire. The piece introduces several thematic elements that occasionally recur. "The Road to Rivendell" blends percussive energy with Celtic, jig-like elements, chronicling the beginning of their adventure -- a road fraught with danger, but also good things (this covers an entire section of the first book). A majestic orchestra, booming drums, and whimsical flutes join forces on "The Quest," which introduces and defines the Hobbits' quest to destroy the ring. "Moria" is the environment under the mountain where they rest along the way; the track reflects the long, scary tunnel with a mysterious, echoing quality. The scenes and the music go on, as Arkenstone pulls interesting scenes from the trilogy and paints fascinating musical pictures throughout.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran