Review by Christopher Coleman
Howard Shores epic work for THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy easily stands as the best film music to be produced in this new millennium. It certainly has garnered more attention, discussion, and dissection than any other work composed for film since the turn of the century, and even more accurately, in the last 25 years. This has happened with good reason as HOWARD SHORE’S work contains the depth and detail worthy of attachment to director Peter Jackson’s trilogy, not to mention J.R.R. Tolkien’s encyclopedic mythos.
Thankfully, THE LORD OF THE RINGS is hardly without proper soundtrack representation. There is the single-CD, original soundtrack releases, limited edition soundtracks, the respective Complete Recordings, the Rarities CD included in Doug Adams’ book, THE MUSIC OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and a plethora of re-recordings and compilations sprinkled throughout retail and online music stores everywhere. All of these releases have coming in less than ten years speaks to the appreciation and value of Shore’s compositions and, of course, its continued marketability.
Now there is one more musical channel from which the Lord of the Rings music has been exhibited. Live concert performances of Shore’s scores have been held all over world. One of them was recorded as recently as February of 2011, performed by the 21st Century Symphony and Chorus, under the direction of maestro Ludwig Wicki. It was this performance that has come to comprise the latest Lord of the Rings musical venture: Howe Records release of THE LORD OF THE RINGS SYMPHONY: SIX MOVEMENTS FOR ORCHESTRA & CHORUS.
Before diving into the some of the details of this release, the most obvious question should be first posed, “Is yet another release even needed?”
Given the volume of music from the trilogy released thus far, one might immediately be inclined to answer that question with a Mumakil-sized, “No.” If that would be your answer, then I’d beg to differ on a few counts. First, if you one of those who have listened to the original and extended releases countless times, know every nuance of every note from the Shire to the Grey Havens, then a new take on those same notes may feel like grey-rain curtain washing across Shore’s score... revealing them anew with fresh appreciation. Second, if you engage in soundtrack-evangelism then how does one introduce a would-be convert to Shore’s twelve-hour thematic deluge without scaring them off? I’d suggest that THE LORD OF THE RINGS SYMPHONY is a solid representation of Shore’s music which is delivered in a very digestible, double-CD format - perfect for such evangelistic efforts...