The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy [3-CD Set]

Howard Shore

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The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy [3-CD Set] Review

by James Christopher Monger

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a three-disc collection that spans composer Howard Shore's score for the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Oscar-winning Fellowship of the Ring skillfully births many of the films' main themes. From the familiar opening violin motif of "The Prophecy" to the haunting elven hymn "Lothlorien," Shore lays out the blueprints for this immense work with precision and wonder, allowing the melodies to brew over time. The inclusion of the Enya-penned "May It Be" caused some controversy among purists who believed that the score would suffer if it deviated from the elvish language, yet it remains a pleasant and complimentary addition. The tone of the second film is much darker in scope, so it only seems fitting that Shore paint with a larger brush. With the whimsical "Concerning Hobbits" theme reduced to short variations, the choral arrangements for The Two Towers battle sequences rule the trilogy's middle child. "Isengard Unleashed" deftly utilizes the solo soprano in the march of the Ents to up the dramatic ante for the battle of "Helm's Deep," and the introduction of "Gollum's Song" by Emiliana Torrini gives a sympathetic feel to the story's most conflicted character. For Return of the King, Shore offers up the best of both worlds. The gentle tones of "The Grey Havens" and the brutality of "The Black Gate Opens" balance the third act with a grace that by now is well earned. The majestic strains of "The Steward of Gondor," with Billy Boyd providing narration in the form of song, is heartbreaking and powerful, and the ring theme has gathered weight in story and score, providing the piece with one its most dramatic moments. "Into the West" by Annie Lennox is a serviceable "credits only" rendering of the "Grey Havens" theme and is a bit distracting within the context of the whole project. For the completist, Shore will release a similar box in 2004 containing all of the film music, as well as music from the extended versions of Lord of the Rings.

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