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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In one word - a Masterpiece, 8 Aug 2008
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Complete Recordings) (Audio CD)
I have always considered Miklos Rozsa's score to Ben-Hur to be the greatest film score ever composed. The sheer depth of that music, the quantity of themes Dr. Rozsa composed for that one movie (around 10 or 12 different themes) and the magnificent orchestrations he wrote made that score unique. Considering the quality of film scores that are composed today - good, usually adequate, but nothing truly 'great' - I never thought I would come across anything to match this wonder written 50 years ago.

I'm so glad to say I was wrong.

This score will surely go down as one of the great film scores of all time. I wont go on and on about it, as other reviewers have written fabulous reviews here that sum up my feelings. I only want to make 3 comments.

1) If you are a serious film score fan and collector, then try to get your hands on this as soon as possible, before it disappears forever. I read on a website a few months ago that the company making this is having trouble producing enough sets to satisfy demand, which is why it is so hard to track down a copy. After opening my copy, I can see why. This beautiful set screams quality. Everything about it is first class. The case, the folder that holds all 4 CD's, the quality of the printing; this is one of the best produced CD sets I have seen. The included booklet is a wonderful source of information on the music itself, written for serious music lovers.

2) Only buy the hard copy set, don't be tempted to buy the MP3 download version. Of course its easier and quicker to get the downloaded version, but this is a CD set designed to keep on your shelf forever, and look good.

3) Don't buy it here, from unscrupulous privateers that are selling it for some ridiculous prices. 140+ is insane. Only pay these prices if you are reading this years into the future and the set was deleted long ago. I just recieved mine from Amazon.com and I paid around 40, including postage. I was expecting to pay around 15 import duty, but I was very lucky ... it was first sent to Germany, where a Deutsche Post sticker was placed over the U.S. Postal label, so it arrived at my front door duty free. But even with the import duty, it will cost around 55 - one third the cost being sold by the privateers.

I never thought I would get a copy of this, I searched and searched the internet for a copy but I could only find overpriced copies on Amazon and Ebay. But I found it on Amazon.com 3 weeks ago. Its still there today. So get it NOW before its gone forever, which will probably be in about 6 to 12 months from now. (August 8, 2008.)
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Film music to die for..., 17 Oct 2007
By 
B. Cronin "hart-reaver" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Complete Recordings) (Audio CD)
If, like me, you have bought and cherished the first two releases in this series - magnificent in content, performance and presentation - you will need no urging to buy this. For everyone else, don't be too daunted by the price tag, remember you are getting three full-length CDs for your money, (four with ROTK), and a DVD of the full score in magnificent sound, all beautifully presented. So dive in now with the Fellowship and you will not regret it. In total, this will run to something like 10 hours-plus of glorious music - an achievement just as impressive, in its way, as the films for which it was written. Howard Shore, we salute you! (In answer to the person querying why this set is costing more than the first two releases - you are getting an extra CD, that's why. Yes, it is a lot of money, but you either want this wonderful music or you don't. As I said in my previous review, when you throw in the beautiful packaging, the fabulous sound and splendid performances, you are getting a lifetime's pleasure for your money.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Beautiful!! Truly a masterpiece!!, 3 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Complete Recordings) (Audio CD)
Quite simply, I bought all of The Lord of the Rings Complete Recordings in that one expensive set but it was all worth every penny. I don't think this needs a review because if you've seen the films then you will already know how good the music made by Howard Shore is. My only problem is that my hi-fi holds three CD's which is good for the other two soundtracks but this one has 4 CD's! For lazy bum's like myself, you have to go up and sort it out at some point but for somebody who is used to watching the DVDs and Blu-rays of these films, you should be used to swapping discs!
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars White shores are calling ..., 19 Nov 2007
By 
G. Kroener (Bamberg, Bavaria Germany) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Complete Recordings) (Audio CD)
Four years it has been now; four years since The Return Of The King graced our theatres, destined to become the second most successful film of all time, garning eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Peter Jackson. And, not least of all, two for Howard Shore and his never resting mind. Four years full of studying Tolkien, labouring over dozens of different cuts and scrutinising every thematic approach in each scene, making absolutely sure it relates correctly and pushes all the right buttons, Howard Shore's labour of love comes to a glorious, and well- deserved end.
The End? Not really. For three years now, Howard Shore himself supervised the production of these Complete Recordings, and it speaks for his character that he didn't give this project out of his hands.
So, here we are, holding The Return Of The King in our hands, and the question is today as relevant as it was four years ago - maybe even more, since we can now judge the full vision of Howard Shore: does it hold up? Did Shore do justice to his own brilliance, did he actually manage to bring the full spectrum of themes to a logical, conclusive, satisfying end?

If the last 20 years of film making have taught us anything, then it's certainly a strong reluctancy to set our hopes for sequels or prequels too high. How many times did we have the highest hopes for a single project, and it didn't only fail, but also had that uniquely ability to not only tarnish the film itself, but all previous entries as well?
That is the most important lesson, and it also reveals a very important aspect of creativity: dazzling the mind with a lot of flash is easy; illuminating the mind with structure demands far more from any artist. That today's movies fail to give us amazing eye candy can't be expected anymore, but amongst all the FX artists doing their magic and sound effect guys blasting the theatre's speakers, where's the story, the gravitas, the ingenuity?
So, am I trying to ease you into the message that Howard Shore actually didn't really deliver this time? No. I want to show you the vast deepness of the chasm on whose edge Howard Shore stood.

Obviously, Lord Of The Rings is not the first movie series with sequels that are better than the original. Motion picture history is littered with improved second parts. The difference, however, is that usually, when a composer delivers an improved sequel, it feels like revisiting the previous score. The composer develops themes by reconsidering the first installment. He might take the score from film one from A to B, and the second score from A to C.
In Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, Shore went from point A to B and B to C, respectively. Themes continued developments without a recap, drawing fresh connections while pushing the old in new directions; the palette widened, incorporating a grander sense of scope and advanced realisations of the styles.
Return of the King takes us triumphantly to point D, which logically expands the compass even further. Shore has built his emotional arc through nearly eight hours of music before reaching this score, and now, as we reach the destination, everything is touched with a sense of gravity. We've earned this voyage; we've come to its conclusion naturally, and the effects are nearly overwhelming.
Nowadays, it's an easy task to find film scores with beautifully soaring themes and powerful action. Nearly every film score today appears to see its task in creating music that is soaked with emotional highlights, moments of pathos and orchestral clashes of almost orgiastic proportions. But in 90 % of those cases, an essential element is lacking: the music and the film don't *earn* these moments, resulting in an atmosphere of fakeness and emotional pretentiousness.

This isn't the case with Lord of the Rings, and especially not with Return of the King. Two scores and six hours of music steadily, subtly and systematically build into this archetectural masterpiece.
Return Of The King has a different vibe from the very first bar. Orchestrations and compositions are a lot more diverse and intricate, and even the palette of soundscapes is more elaborate.
This is largely due to the fact that in Return of the King, Howard Shore combines and collides his themes to bring them down to a common denominator, to bring the stories to their logical climax. For instance, in "A Coronal Of Silver and Gold" or "The Land Of Shadow", the 5/4 beat of Isengard meets the Fourth Age Of Mordor theme, and the Orc theme of Isengard meets the Threat Of Mordor motif, indicating that Isengard's power and creatures have now been fully consumed by and integrated under the eye of Sauron.

From the very beginning, Return of the King builds on The Two Towers' maturity, and adds an amazing layer of thematic and textural developments. The bridging is absolutely seamless - the first 30 seconds of "Roots and Beginnings" sound like a direct continuation of Two Tower's end credits.
This score has a distinct touch of understated grandesse, which roots in Howard Shore's inherent subtlety, and which is perfect because the movie isn't about heroic, uplifting battles, it shows a world in decline and its hope of revival.
Everything builds into this, and the true meanings of all themes are revealed. Right in the opening sequence, "Roots And Beginnings", the essential meaning of the Ring's Seduction theme is presented. Or the ringwraiths; listen to Fellowship's "The Nazgul", Two Towers' "Wraiths On Wings", and then "Shieldmaiden Of Rohan", and you will not only see, you will understand. That's also a feelings very few scores can create.
When Aragorn bows to the four hobbits during the coronation scene, you hear the exact same short piece that plays when Frodo says "I will take the ring" during the Council Of Elrond; these are the moments that reveal a true genius of musical storytelling.
And amongst all these intricacies, Howard Shore never loses the focus on the heart of the tale. That is why the emotional climaxes reaches their full blossoming in the listener's mind, and each one stabs right into your heart, unfolding a deep satisfaction.
As you know by now, this gem includes four CDs, one DVD with the score in Surround Sound, and a more than intriguing booklet by Doug Adams, who guides us through the soundscapes of Middle-Earth.
Also, like Two Towers, this release includes countless additions that didn't make it into the film. These additions are sometimes of bigger, often of shorter nature, but they all glue together some score parts that appeared incoherent in the film. In the best sense of the word, they give the score even more time to breathe and to shine.

I don't think there has ever been a film score that lived and breathed quite like The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and The Return Of The King especially. Every piece of music has its meaning, talks to you, and leaves you deeply satisfied.
Unlike the Ring films themselves, their scores, or more precisely their themes, may never become part of popular culture, and in times where this is considered the knighting for any film score, Lord Of The Rings doesn't need to, since it has an entirely different goal, and works on an entirely different level.
If you wanted to place "The Return Of The King" in film music history, you will have to go back to the glory days of film music in the 50s and the 60s, when there was no difference between classically trained composers and film composers, when those great musicians didn't need to worry about sales or becoming part of pop culture, but instead created music through which their films lived, breathed and acquired true greatness. Spartacus, El Cid, North By Northwest, Ben Hur, Jason and the Argonauts, that is the royal company in which The Lord Of The Rings does not need to feel ashamed.
You could even say that The Return Of The King goes back to 18th/19th century opera in terms of how dozens and dozens of meticulously interwoven motifs not only shape the actors' performance, but also tell the story on their own. In this light, Shore's Ring trilogy has even an advantage over scores like Ben Hur or King Of Kings.
Howard Shore's masterpiece combines genuine opera with a glimpse of Golden Age, and this is an achievement for the ages.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic boxed set....., 5 Dec 2007
By 
Richard Gifford (Ipswich, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Complete Recordings) (Audio CD)
The complete score from the final film is in my opinion so much better than the film itself which I did not enjoy (for me the 2nd film is still one of the best movies I have ever seen). I paid 34.08 for mine from 'DVD Legacy' (via Amazon) so am very pleased it actually arrived today which was better than expected. If you own the 1st two sets then this one is a must have. The DVD A disc quality is superb and the sole reason I own a player capable of decoding the format. Go order it now..... 'My precious'........ ;-)
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monumental, 18 Feb 2008
By 
Calvin Scholtz (Cape Town, South Africa) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Complete Recordings) (Audio CD)
When I walked out of my local cinema on the 17th of December 2003, having just witnessed possibly the best film I have ever seen or ever will see, I was emotionally drained, but also extremely excited to: (a) see the film again on the big screen; and (b) to buy and listen to the soundtrack.

I saw the film one more time, which I believe was enough to both satisfy me and to keep my interest piqued for the soundtrack. It was about a month later when I purchased the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, and never have I been more disappointed.

Film soundtracks somehow always tend to leave out some piece of music that was uniquely memorable to me, however I was horrified to find a good deal of my musical highlights from the film omitted. I understand of course that they have to be ruthless in order to edit a 250-minute score into 70 minutes of CD, but that did not comfort me.

Over time I got used to it, as it appeared to be the only version of the music I was ever going to hear, and I will even admit to loving it: I enjoyed most of the tracks, especially "Minas Tirith", "The White Tree", "The Black Gate Opens" and I still prefer to "Anduril" to the one presented on the Complete Recordings.

However, it cannot be overstated: The Return of the King - The Complete Recordings is magnificent, everything that I've ever wished for in a musical score and an amazing testament to Howard Shore's skill and genius as an artist. It is what I waited 4 years to hear, and I'm truly glad that I lived to see the day when Shore's 10-hour opera was made available on disc.

I'm not going to make any attempt to critically analyse the music and its various thematic elements, etc. - any attempt would be futile, as that has already been done expertly by Doug Adams, and I would refer anyone interested to know more to the comprehensive Annotated Scores for all 3 Complete Recordings to be found on [...]

Instead, I can only offer an emotional response to what I view to be the highlights of this monumental recording. First, "Roots and Beginnings" gives us the music that Shore intended to accompany Smeagol's murder of Deagol and his transformation into Gollum, which was replaced by sound effects in the film: it's extremely powerful music.

"The Grace of Undomiel" is another favourite of mine as it features the best segue music I have ever heard: as Narsil is re-forged, the Rivendell theme builds to a crescendo before it flows into the Minas Tirith theme, which is appropriate as the film then flashes to Gandalf and Pippin as they approach the capital city of Gondor. The Fellowship theme sounds in an urgent yet heroic statement and then The Realm of Gondor takes over: incredible!

I was always disappointed with "The Ride of the Rohirrim" on the 2003 Soundtrack as it presented the least stirring of the Rohan melodies when there were 2 other far superior tunes that they could have chosen. "The Lighting of the Beacons" ends with one of those: the Rohan fanfare is presented as similarly heroic and urgent as Theoden and his troops prepare to depart, before it builds through a majestic version of Nature's Reclamation.

"Osgiliath Invaded" is another superb track, and it offers us a rare opportunity to hear music that was composed to an earlier, alternate edit of the film. The Morgul-host clash violently with Faramir's rangers before the fellowship theme interrupts the battle: in this version, Gandalf and Pippin have only just arrived in Gondor and, seeing the Nazgul attacking the retreating Gondorians, they charge the Pelennor fields, Gandalf's staff-light blazing, and the Nazgul flee.

The music Shore composed for all of the Paths of the Dead scenes is actually a lot better than I originally thought that it was: the use of hanging Tibetan gongs was a particular stroke of genius on his part: they're just so haunting and exotic! Similarly, Shore's music for the Shelob's Lair sequences not only showcases what is clearly one of his favourite compositional styles, but also reflects the action on screen perfectly, serving as a musical imprint of events.

I suppose that that goes for the entire score, but mention must be made here of his compositions for "The Siege of Gondor", "Grond - The Hammer of the Underworld" and "The Tomb of the Stewards": the music that represents the evil mechanical might of Mordor is evocative and harrowing at the same time.

Perhaps the one piece of music that I have most looked forward to hearing and have found myself humming many times over the last 4 years comes from one of my favourite scenes in the trilogy: Theoden's charge on the fields of the Pelennor. "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields" on Disc 3 does not disappoint and never ceases to make my hair stand on end as the Hardanger fiddle sings the Rohan fanfare over brave brass doing the same. Fantastic!

The bloody and frantic battle that results from the Rohirrim's arrival is just as well represented musically: from the deep, ponderous percussion of the Mumakil charge to the high, hellish choir that backs the Witch-king's attack on Eowyn, we are presented with a kaleidoscope of melodies that fight for dominance. And yet, amid all the chaos, a clear simple tune calls out during a lull: the Grey Havens theme makes its first appearance in "A Far Green Country", and what a tune, orchestrated differently from the film, but better!

Finally, Legolas' bringing-down of a Mumak serves as a suitable climax to the battle, both visually and musically, before we fall back to earth where Theoden lies dying. I am in constant awe of Shore's aptness to composing simple yet very emotional music for death scenes: Boromir's in "Fellowship" was one, and Theoden's is of a similar kind, as choir and halting strings and brass give the impression of a person's breath slowing and finally giving-out.

However, the true climax of the film, and the entire 10-hour score/opera for that matter, is the destruction of the ring. "For Frodo" sets those events in motion as Aragorn leads the Army of the West against the forces of Mordor and Gollum returns to attack Frodo and Sam on Mount Doom. The incredible choral accompaniment follows these events to perfection as first it sings heroically then its tone turns dark, until it is comforted by the Nature theme.

The Ring is at last destroyed, and the music for "The Crack of Doom" is some of the best I think that I have ever heard. The Fate of the Ring theme, which once appeared briefly when Aragorn and Gandalf were discussing the future of Middle-earth in The Two Towers, is now brought to the fore by full chorus and orchestra as it represents the downfall of Sauron and hope for a new day. I feel sure that if there is ever a Judgement Day, and Evil is destroyed forever, that music will be playing! The Gondor Reborn theme also features, and it is another example of an alternate version to the film, but a far superior one!

Let me make this clear: the entire 10-hour score/opera is amazing, and is an essential for any discerning music lover. If I had the time to write a review for all three Complete Recordings, I would: this all too brief critique has only looked at a small percentage of the music, and then only my personal highlights. The whole set of 10 CDs may look costly, but I assure you that it is worth every penny, and if you loved the films, the books or just good music, then you will find eternal joy in this score/opera, as I have done and still do.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic, 7 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Complete Recordings) (Audio CD)
I never tire of this, it doesn't even seem that long! All the best bits including the Houses of Healing
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lavish cd set, 27 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Complete Recordings) (Audio CD)
Amazing set to go with the other 2 LOTR sets.
Brilliant sound quality and lovely presentation box. Hope for more sets like this in the future.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 19 Mar 2012
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This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Complete Recordings) (Audio CD)
This soundtrack is massive, and if you know the film this soundtrack will take you through a whole range of emotions. I've played these CDs a number of times and the music never gets old or tired, each play through is as fresh as the last. Presentation wise this box set matches the Fellowshp of the Ring, and the Two Towers complete soundtrack editions. Really if you enjoyed the films or have an interest in Tolkien you need this set ;-)
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best soundtrack ever released!, 1 Feb 2012
By 
Marcelo A. Komel "MarceloAK" (Miami, FL) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Complete Recordings) (Audio CD)
The highest quality ever! Perfect sound! Totally recommended!
If you like The Lord of The Rings, including the soundtrack, i think that you would love this product, in it you will find everything from the movie, all the sounds.
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