This CD is beautiful beyond words. Hobbit songs are appropriately like lively English folksongs - you can just picture Pippin splashing in the bathtub at Crickhollow -, and Elvish songs have their roots in plain song and classical ballads. The song of Nimrodel makes you realise how wonderfully entertaining and spellbinding a bard's performance by the fireside must have been (beats TV!).
The musicians and singers of the Tolkien Ensemble are excellent. Other reviewers have already aptly commented on Christopher Lee's wonderful performance and yes - he can sing as well as speak! My favourite is, I think, Signe Asmussen, though. Her ethereal and heartrendering interpretation of "Elbereth Gilthoniel" is as near perfect as possible - it floates on the air like the memory of elves in a rustling autumn breeze.
If you like this CD, get the other two as well in the series as well (An Evening in Rivendell and A Night in Rivendell! These are the most Tolkienesque interpretations of his poetry I have yet come across.
A couple of weeks ago I heard someone telling a friend that they loved reading Lord of the Rings but always skipped the songs and poetry sections and especially detested the Tom Bombadil chapter. The friend said they'd felt the same way until they heard the Tolkien Ensemble singing the songs and verse, after which they had a completely different view of Tolkien's verse. I was intrigued. I've always been very fond of Tolkien's poetry - even had a book with just the poetry, because I liked it so much. Amazon supplied me with this CD and now that I've listened to it a few times, I'm happy to recommend it. It's very good. I was reminded of all sorts of music including opera, sea shanties, rustic folk songs, Morris dancing. It sounds very English and seems exactly right somehow; very appropriate for what, after all, Tolkien intended as a myth - a heroic legend for England, as he put it: "bound up with its tongue and soil". It was a master stroke, choosing Christopher Lee to play Saruman in the films and, I agree with an earlier reviewer, it was a brilliant idea to recruit him to recite and even sing! (with a voice like that, why am I surprised that he can sing?) for this CD. If they could have persuaded Treebeard himself to sing "Treebeard's Song", I'm sure he would have sounded very like Christopher Lee. Just wonderful.
Caspar Reiff and Peter Hall and their Tolkien Ensemble are back conjuring magick! And this time with a white wizard aiding them. It was a stroke of genius to capitalise on the multi-talents (often ignored) of the wonderful Chris Lee. The attempt to put Tolkien's poetic works to music is an inspired undertaking, but to bring in Lee (the films' Saruman) was brilliant choice all around. He has a a beautiful voice (and if you think he cannot sing, you certainly missed The Wickerman!), that lends itself well to poetry and song. His readings are breathtaking, chilling and work so well with the moody, atmospheric scores. It beautiful, provocative and a must for the lovers of the films, books, the Tolkien Ensemble and a gem for lover of Christopher Lee.
This CD has got a lot going for it. After listening to the first three tracks I was enraptured. Christopher Lee's readings have marvellous presence, the music is exquisitely played and there is some beautiful singing: Morten Ernst Lassen, Signe Asmussen and the Copenhagen Chamber Choir stand out. Against this, however, some of the other singers are somewhat suspect and Christopher Lee hams it up a bit at times. If people occasionally singing out of tune bothers you then you'll want to think carefully about buying this CD. However, you'll be missing out on some marvellous songs: "Song of Gondor" and the first five minutes of "Hymn to Elbereth Gilthoniel" are beautiful songs, exquisitely performed; the first "Walking Song" and "Treebeard's Song" (sung by Christopher Lee!!!) are dripping with character. If the whole CD matched these four tracks then it would rate at least five stars! The low point of the CD has to be the rather dodgy last two minutes of "Hymn to Elbereth Gilthoniel", which mangles an otherwise wonderful track. To summarise: this CD is well worth the purchase price, provided you can accept the occasional lapses.
Have you ever wondered, how those verses and rhymes appearing in Lord of the Rings might sound in reality? Tolkien Ensemblet have tried to translate some of those great verses and stories into music, and they have done a great job! With help from Christoffer Lee they put this special world a bit closer to the Tolkien Universe, hitting the listener hard with funny twists and scary moods depending on the choosen song. This CD is a great continuation from their first two CDs - also with a lot of Tolkien's verses. Perhaps it might not fit all of the listener's pictures of the various songs, but it is definitly close - close enough that a Tolkien fan should not be without a copy!
This album is a must for all Tolkien Fans!! The Tolkien Ensemble have made such a wonderfull work in the last years using Tolkien's world as a background and this third appearence doesn't let you down!!! Now with the contribution of Christopher Lee and his magnific voice we can now listen the dark side that was missing in the last two albums!! They caught Tolkien's spirit very well and I love to read the books and imagine the four Hobbits walking and singing those beatiful songs!! Just perfect...