Album Reviews

Various – Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King OST

UK release date: 24 November 2003


Howard Shore points outthat whilst J.R.R. Tolkien had 14 years in whichto write the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, the music hadto be done in only four. It’s some achievement for thecomposer, who has been working non-stop on this music,taking only Christmas and New Year for holidays,and the material is such that he is busily arranging asymphony to incorporate music from all three films,not to mention writing accompaniments for the DVDextras. All in all this makes up for a whopping sevenhours’ worth of material, carefully orchestrated andexpansively performed.

As you’d expect, The Return Of TheKing draws heavily on themes from the previous twosoundtracks, with most of the characters introduced bynow. New to the scene, however, is the vile monsterShelob, given appropriately discordant music as sheattacks and pursues Frodo and Sam – not one for thearachnophobics in the cinema!

With the contrastbetween good and evil growing more vivid, there’s asavage depiction of Minas Morgul in the heart ofMordor, and a weird, disquieting sound picture ofCirith Ungol. Hope abounds in the shape of the Ride OfThe Rohirrim, and the city of Minas Tirith is made tosound as majestic as it looks on screen.

Twilight & Shadowcontains an example of a technique Shore uses to greateffect, as he often builds a piece of music with moreand more orchestration and intensity until it suddenlyrushes over a cliff, suspended with choral voicesconveying a kind of weightlessness.

There are more vocalcontributions to this final part, with Ren�e Fleminglending a gorgeous soprano voice to The End Of AllThings, and Annie Lennox a curious but successfulchoice for the end credits.

The crowning movement, TheReturn Of The King, arrives at a relative calm as theend is nigh, the battle fought, with a recap of manyof the principal themes used thus far. Again these areexpansively orchestrated yet are quite folksy whendepicting the Shire and when the Hobbits are on thescene.

Shore’s highly dramaticsoundtrack stands up as a piece in its own right, withor without the film, and the classical sensibilities,together with a real sense of drama and occasion, augurwell for the projected symphony. It’s a tremendousachievement, one to put on a par with JohnWilliams and his music for Star Wars.


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