The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring (Soundtrack) by Howard Shore

 

 

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 The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring (Soundtrack) by Howard Shore 

Score of the Rings: Part I
Review by Christopher Coleman

 

The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring (Soundtrack) by Howard Shore

Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring
9/10

The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring (Soundtrack) by Howard Shore

Category  |   Score

Originality 8
Music Selection 9
Composition 9
CD Length 10
Track Order 8
Performance 9
Final Score 9/10

 

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Composer Howard Shore
Composer 
Howard Shore

 

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Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Movie Poster - DS 1 Sheet - Style B Available at moviegoods.com
Fellowship of the Ring

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Movie Poster - DS 1 Sheet - Style B Available at moviegoods.com
Fellowship of the Ring
 

 

 

Quick Quotes


"It's an opera length score, but because there are only seventy-two minutes on the album, I had to take each section of the film and edit them down to make those essential tracks.  It's a very thematic score, and there's some great linkage between the cues which could not be represented on one CD. "

Howard Shore - SoundtrackNet interview
 

 

Composed, Orchestrated and Conducted by Howard Shore
Produced by Howard Shore and Suzana Peric
Executive Album Producers: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Paul Broucek
Performed by The London Philharmonic Orchestra, The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, The London Voices, The London Oratory School Schola, Enya, Edward Ross, Elizabeth Fraser, Mabel Faletolu
Released by Warner/Reprise Records November 20, 2001

2001 has been a year full of lofty soundtrack expectations.  Even higher expectations have been put on a few Fall/Winter releases than on the usual Summer-suspects.  By the time Summer had dissolved into Fall, aside from Goldenthal's Final Fantasy:  The Spirit's Within and John Williams' A.I. - Articificial Intelligence, there wasn't much that proved to live up to most of the hype.

Two of the biggest releases since Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Lord of the Rings (franchises which hold or will hold similar cult followings) targeted the close of 2001 as their release dates.  Attached to each film has been a tirade of talk and much of that talk has centered around the films' original scores.  Of course, anything that the fan-proclaimed, Maestro of Film Music, John Williams, touches gets the brightest of spotlights, but Howard Shore's naming as composer for the Lord of the Rings films has drawn an equal amount of attention and discussion.

Certainly not noted for big, adventure film scoring, composer Howard Shore seemed to many as a curious choice.  Would he deliver a score that fans wanted, even needed to hear, for such an epic and well-known story?  Early interviews with the composer only mixed opinions more; however, with the release of various audio clips on the internet, hopes seemed to be confirmed more than dashed.  When the soundtrack finally released on November 20, 2001, a collective sigh of satisfaction could almost be heard throughout most of "filmmusicdom"...and with good reason.

Not only was the weight of one movie's score sitting on Shore's shoulders but the weight of THREE movies and their scores.  If Howard Shore failed in delivering the goods for part one, disappointment would be increased not only by a factor of three but exponentially by three!  As it turns out, Fellowship of the Ring is the just the sort of score the majority have been pining for.   This first episode of The Lord of the Rings trilogy packs in most every musical element that it should:  a noble and bold chorus, mysterious vocals and lyrics, expansive, 100 piece orchestra, memorable themes and motifs, and pulse-pounding action cues.  From the very first notes of track 1, The Prophecy , the listener knows he or she is in for a thrilling ride to and through Middle-Earth. By the conclusion of vocalist, Enya's typically mystical performance of May it Be (18) , the listener has truly
been treated to a complete listening experience.

Enya

At its heart, the Lord of the Rings is a classic story between the forces of light and dark, good and evil.  Howard Shore's score reflects that struggle clearly and most effectively.  The gothic and esoteric qualities of the music conveyed  through the 60 voice male chorus and percussive, orchestral elements are fitly contrasted by the innocence and purity of the 30 voice boys choir and, of course, by Enya's ethereal contributions. 

Howard Shore, Enya, Phillipa Boyens, and the collective talents of hundreds of scholars and performers, and producers, make Fellowship of the Ring a classic film score that remains unmistakably Tolkien - a goal they must have undoubtedly been after.  Like the most popular sci/fi - fantasy film scores, Fellowship of the Ring leaves little to wonder about regarding the characters or sequences for which a given piece was composed.  Shore clearly depicts the character and nature of the Hobbits, the Ringwraiths, elves, and orcs as well as their journeys and conflicts.  In the well-established tradition of Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams, Howard Shore's music not only accompanies the screen images, but contributes greatly toward the telling and advancing of the storyline.  At the same time, Shore stays true to the unique, Tolkien-world by implementing vocals sung in Elvish and even Black Speech.  This element not only works in a musical sense, but helps to solidify an authentic-connection to this distinctive literary-world.

While Howard Shore's overall ability was hardly in question, most questions or doubts have been thoroughly answered or wiped clear with Shore's score for Fellowship of the Ring.  Musically speaking, some may not appreciate Howard Shore taking such a well-traveled-road and may have been after something more "inventive" for Fellowship.  For majority of fans out there, however, this score is going to prove more than satisfactory.  With, reportedly, so much music to select from (some 3 hours of music were composed for the film), the listener is still given choice portions of music to enjoy, and while expanded releases are almost a certainty, as other expanded releases have demonstrated, this original release may prove to provide the best overall listening experience. 


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track

Title Time

Rating

1 The Prophecy    *****
2 Concerning Hobbits    ****
3 The Shadow of the Past    ****
4 The Treason of Isengard    *****
5 The Black Rider    ****
6 At the Sign of the Prancing Pony    ****
7 A Knife in the Dark    *****
8 Flight to the Ford    ****
9 Many Meetings    *****
10 The Council of Elrond (featuring Aniron (Theme for Aragon and Arwen) by Enya    ****
11 The Rings Goes South    ****
12 A Journey in the Dark    ****
13 The Bridge of Khazad Dum    *****
14 Lothlorien    ****
15 The Great River    *****
16 Amon Hen    *****
17 The Breaking of the Fellowship    *****
18 May it Be - Enya    ****
 

Total Running Time

37:59  

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.

 

Referenced Reviews
Harry Potter  |  Final Fantasy  |  A.I.  

 

 

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