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Music from The Hobbit and
The Lord of the Rings from Silva Screen

Music from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

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Music from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (Soundtrack) from Silva Screen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (Soundtrack) from Silva Screen

Music from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
Composed by Howard Shore
Silva Screen Records (2013)

Rating: 7/10

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“...for those casual moviegoers, this is a good way to get some Middle-earth music into your collection without having to shell out for multiple CDs.”

There is Only One Score of the Rings and It Does Not Share Power!
Review by Edmund Meinerts

 


The latest compilation/rerecording work from Silva Screen sees them slipping into the MovieScore Media role, trying to bring some exposure to the scores from a little-known series of low-budget fantasy films based on the all-but-forgotten novels of J.R.R. Tolkien. Yes, well, all joking aside, one can see why they would be tempted to release this album, which is a compilation of cues from the four ridiculously successful Peter Jackson-directed Middle-earth related fantasy eposes (…epi?). Does this mean they will release another such album in a year’s time when THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG hits theaters? Only time will tell, but meanwhile, the City of Prague Orchestra has offered up their renditions of some of the highlights of HOWARD SHORE’s music for the concept.

It goes without saying, naturally, that this album, like Silva’s yearly film music roundup series, is aimed firmly at the very casual moviegoer. More dedicated score collectors, especially those with any sort of affinity for this particular series, will likely not have any use for it. To put this hour-long single-disc release in perspective, the full extent of SHORE’s music for the series on album, combining the special edition of THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY with the Complete Recordings of the three LORD OF THE RINGS scores, clocks in at about twelve hours. That’s not to say that this album is poorly made, of course; for one thing, their selection of highlights is solid, especially considering just how enormous and thematically rich this series is. Pretty much all of the more prominent themes from the series, the ones that the aforementioned casual moviegoer might have a chance of recognizing, are covered.

So from THE HOBBIT (the album is sequenced in story order rather than order of film release), we are first treated to a broad presentation its most well-known theme, the Dwarven Company Theme aka Misty Mountains, in “Over Hill” (1), followed by the action cue “A Thunder Battle” (2) and Bilbo’s theme in “Dreaming of Bag End” (3). The album’s longest portion is then devoted to FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, a not unwelcome choice considering it is perhaps the most varied of all the scores. “The Fellowship” (4) is a suite consisting mostly of the film’s finale plus an extra Fellowship fanfare at the end. The emotional, percussion-driven statement of the A Hobbit’s Understanding theme at 3:58, one of the absolute highlights of the series, is captured remarkably well in the rerecording, not an easy feat.

The decision to include “The Prophecy” (5) is a somewhat unusual one; an early version of the prologue cue, it ended up not making the film because the prologue ended up being much longer. It was, however, included on the original soundtrack release for FELLOWSHIP. It is a good cue, but unfortunately performed at far too slow a tempo here (it’s nearly a minute longer than SHORE’s version). A brief summary of the Shire-related music follows in “Concerning Hobbits” (6), and “The Shadw of the Past/A Knife in the Dark” covers a wide swath of thematic ground: Mordor/Sauran, Gollum, the Nazgűl and Isengard/Saruman. Finally, the low male chanting-dominated “The Bridge of Khazad-dűm” includes some of SHORE’s best action music for the series.

The section for THE TWO TOWERS begins with a quick run through the thematic material for Rohan in “The Riders of Rohan” (9), continues with Arwen and Aragorn’s beautiful choral love theme “Evenstar” (10) – though the use of a vibrato-rich operatic voice is a somewhat awkward contrast to the purity of the original – and concludes with a lengthy suite of action music from the film’s climax, including the popular “last march of the Ents” portion. That cue contains perhaps the most unfortunate tempo choice in the entire album, a horribly rushed statement of the Isengard theme at 4:48.

RETURN OF THE KING is easily the most underrepresented of the scores on this album. The Gondor theme is given two impressive performances in “Hope and Memory/Minas Tirith” (12) and “The White Tree” (13), the latter a necessity on any LORD OF THE RINGS compilation. The City of Prague Philharmonic is at its most enthusiastic here, though they still don’t quite pull off the wild string arpeggios of the latter cue as well as the London Philharmonic Orchestra did on the originals. “Twilight and Shadow” (14) is the one inclusion that seems somewhat unnecessary, as it covers much of the same reflective and operatic ground as “Evenstar” (10) and there is simply too much other good music that could have been included instead. The album wraps up with “The Fields of Pelennor” (15), which ensures that it ends on a positive note with one of SHORE’s boldest fanfares for the series, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the second half of RETURN OF THE KING is totally absent, including the apocalyptic Mount Doom climactic material and the beautiful thematic dčnouement that follows. Of course, condensing twelve hours of music down to one is bound to cause some casualties.

All in all, this is a perfectly competent summary of SHORE’s work on the franchise. Unlike some of their year-end albums, the orchestral performance is solid across the board with only a few minor performance or tempo issues. Unfortunately, the fact remains that this music simply didn’t need to be rerecorded. One of the great assets of SHORE’s work (and it has many) is the unique ambience it has. Something about the way the music is composed, played and/or recorded makes it possible to listen to no more than five seconds of any portion of the scores and instantly pin it down as Middle-earth music. The choral writing in particular is very distinctive, and the City of Prague only occasionally manages to recreate that ambience. Sadly, that means that no matter how good a summary this album is, a better one can be made simply by assembling the relevant cues from their original sources. Still, one has to keep in mind the different audience this product is aimed at, and for those casual moviegoers, this is a good way to get some Middle-earth music into your collection without having to shell out for multiple CDs. Also, compliments to whoever designed the cover art; very authentically old-school Tolkien.


 

Rating: 7/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Over Hill 3:20  ****
2 A Thunder Battle 3:38  ****
3 Dreaming of Bag End 1:49  ****
4 The Fellowship 5:52  ****
5 The Prophecy 5:01  ***
6 Concerning Hobbits 2:44  ****
7 The Shadow of the Past/ A Knife in the Dark 7:26  ****
8 The Bridge of Khazad-dűm 5:57  ****
9 The Riders of Rohan 3:52  ****
10 Evenstar 3:38  ****
11 Forth Eorlingas/ Isengard Unleashed 8:30  ****
12 Hope and Memory/ Minas Tirith 2:38  ****
13 The White Tree 3:47  ****
14 Twilight and Shadow 3:53  ****
15 The Fields of Pelennor 2:16  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 65 minutes  

 

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