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on 25 November 2003
Howard Shore has done it again!
This is a superb soundtrack, with hautingly beautiful music and some incredible singing from Ben del Maestro, Renee Fleming and a stunning finale from Annie Lennox. It also contains some surprises. Billy Boyd and Viggo Mortensen feature as well, and some beautiful flute renditions from Sir James Galway.
I had expected this to be darker, almost depressing, knowing the way the book progresses, but this soundtrack has echoes of the past within it. Familiar themes from both The Fellowship and the Two Towers are interwoven here as well, to leave this listener at least, moved to tears in places. The track entitled 'The Return of the King' in particular weaves a powerful spell with words in Sindarin sung by Aragorn, now Elessar. In this track alone the album would be worth its cost.
Buy it, listen to it, absorb it, as the trilogy reaches its wonderful climax.
Truly, Howard Shore and Peter Jackson have woven a spell worthy of Tolkein.
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on 10 November 2003
I've just heard some samples from the new Lord of The Rings - The Return of The King soundtrack, and it has just blew me away.
This soundtrack just builds of the previous two scores. Howard Shore has created a masterpiece of work for the Lord of The Rings. This score will go down in history as one of the best movie scores ever produced.
The tracks that stand out on The Return of The King are: "Minas Tirith" - part of which you can hear in the trailer for the film; "The Fields Of The Pelennor"; "The Black Gate Opens" - which has the same theme as "Into The West" and "The Grey Havens" which has the same musical feel as "The Breaking of The Fellowship" and "Samwise The Brave" from the previous two scores, and will no doubt leave a few people in tears when the film ends - me included!
When I first heard that Annie Lennox was had been asked to sing / produce the final song, I thought it was a bad move, but after hearing some of the song "Into The West", it just fits perfectly.
If you haven't bought any of The Lord of The Rings soundtracks, you are missing out on something very special.
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on 27 November 2003
The ROTK soundtrack is amazing, although not just because I am a fan of the films, it is also because I enjoy listening to classical film scores. Howard Shore has worked wonders with the 3 LOTR scores. I consider the FOTR score to be the best and most emotional, closely followed by this score for ROTK and then TTT.
Shore's use of the new much-vaunted Gondor theme has also be sparingly used. This theme, often used in conjunction with the city of Minas Tirith and, of course, the King's coronation later in the story, could have been the grand recurring theme of the ROTK soundtrack (much like the Fellowship theme from FOTR). Therefore, one must assume that Shore has deliberately decided not to make the final score as thematic as the previous two, instead concentrating on 'darkening' the score with many tracks from Mordor and one from the inevitable carnage of war at The Pelennor Fields. This seems like a logical choice to me, bearing in mind the conclusion to the story.
Every Lord of the Rings score has its zenithal moment. The Fellowship of the Ring had 'The Bridge of Khazad Dum', The Two Towers had 'Forth Eorlingas', and The Return of the King seemingly has 'Shelob's Lair'. Regarding Shelob's Lair, I would love to be pointed in the right direction to a better piece of music that captures the [probable] action and anxiety of a scene. Howard has really superceded himself and his previous efforts with that one!
So, in conclusion, the good parts of this soundtrack are mesmerizing, although some casual listeners may find tracks 6-10 a bit tiresome if they're not well-acquainted with the film. Roll on December 17!
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on 23 November 2003
The previous two soundtracks for Peter Jackson's trilogy adaptation og LOTR, have been brilliant pieces of music. The choice of Howard Shore to be the films' composer was a work of genius.
I expected this soundtrack, like I do the last film, to leave the others far behind, and I was not disappointed.
In a number of tracks we revisit the various themes we have met before, including the Rohirrim theme, and the Hobbit "Hym", each time in a new way. The overall theme of the music on the soundtrack is far more meloncholic, and bittersweet. Especially "The White Tree: The Steward of Gondor" which also featured a surprisingly good solo from Billy Boyd (Pippin).
"The Return Of The King" is a track which will remind listeners of "The Breaking of the Fellowship" from FOTR. This track almost ties up all of the various themes from the films, like the film will with the various plot threads.
Annie Lennox's "Into the West" is a beautiful, heart-touching song, far-surpassing the credit songs from the previous two filsm. It helps to enhance the emotions felt throughout the film, and especialy from the part of the story from whence it got it's title.
This soundtrack is perfect for any film fan, and a must-have for all Tolkien-fans. For new-comers to the films, and/or the music, I higly recommend this, as it sums up the entire trilogy of films.
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on 2 May 2004
I have found that all of the Lord of the Rings soundtracks have stood out from other films in every way. You can never grow bored of it and you find it stuck in your head after listening.
Return of the King is different from the other two soundtracks. There is more chanting and Celtic tunes on flutes. It's concluding song is by Annie Lennox, which I think to be the best of the three songs.
My favorite tracks are Minas Tirith and the Pelennor fields. Minas Tirith has the compelling music of Gondor and your mind becomes filled with your panoramic memories of the film, when the Fell Beast descends on Faramir's Gondorian knights as they gallop frantically from the fallen and ruined city of Osgiliath to Minas Tirith the City of Kings. The Pelennor fields leaves you imagining the vast hordes of Orcs faced by the 6000 Rohirrm. A chilling chanting echoes as the riders prepare to charge headlong into the fray.
If you are a fan of the Elven music, then the track Twilight and Shadow features with the Evenstar tune and if you want to remember the most emotionally gripping moment of the film then flick to the Return of the King track.
Great music, great composer, great trilogy!
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on 11 December 2003
I couldn't disagree more with the reviewer who gave the score only 2 stars. With The Return of the King Howard Shore delivers the goods in spades....and as a classical music listener of some twenty five years standing I can see (and hear!) the developing music arc of Shore's ideas reach a fulfilling conclusion. While The Two Towers was a slight disappointment to me after the marvellous first score, too episodic (like the film itself in it's episodic nature - although the extended edition DVD put that to rights!) the final instalment of Shore's masterly soundtrack journey provides a completely satisfying listening experience to the whole endeavour.
A plethora of horns, brass calls and drumbeats evidence of flagging musical invention? Not at all - Shore provides a superb build-up acompanyment to a story concerned among other things with matters martial, an apocalyptic battle impending. And that is only part of the film and music score story. I applaud the fact that - as with the other two scores - music cues correspond to the on-screen action and aren't elongated confections as they are on many soundtrack releases. Hence seemingly abrupt conclusions to musical climaxes, some even being cut off just before their culmination. That is because the climax is taking place ON SCREEN and far from not being able to develop a theme to its full conclusion (the soaring string theme in Twilight and Shadow? Goodness, how much more musical development and fulfilment do you need!? Gorgeous) Shore deliberately holds climaxes back so that they merges seamlessly into what is taking place in the film itself (listen to The Fields of the Pelennor).
This is the real triumph of Howard Shore's musical achievement - he has put himself at the service of the film and not at the service of his own indulgencies nor at the service of Peter Jackson (I saw the musical documentary, too) for let's not forget that Peter Jackson has done that, as well! He has put himself at the service of the film also. He hadn't seen the complete cut of the film at it's premier in New Zealand; he had entrusted the finale to his editors. Both composer and director have transcended their egos in this endevaour and excelled themselves.
**(Possible Spoliers)** Two movements making up a relatively low key prologue (when you see the film you will understand why) are followed by the soaring musical spire of Minas Tirith, like the city itself and the first of many beautiful vocal threads that weave through this score.
Standout tracks for me along with Minas Tirith are The White Tree, The Steward of Gondor - with Billy Boyd's vocals a pleasant surprise in their Celtic tinge and Shore's chilly strings an atmospheric accompaniment. Then Minus Morgul kicks in like the Dies Ire from Mozart's Requiem! Savage! For sheer beauty: Twilight and Shadow, Anduril (again a masterly example of how Shore blends near musical climax into climactic moment on screen - the reforging and handing over of the shards af Narsil - majestic)
The End of All Things, which notwithstanding the vast battle awaiting at Pelennor is the real climax of the film and the score - Shore using a dark-hued, other-worldly sounding chorus, reaching plateau after plateau (crank up the volume!!!) shot through with the most beautiful of those gorgeous vocal threads. Renee Fleming, as in Twlight and Shadow, giving us vocal white gold with this one!
And then the glorious coda that is Return of the King and The Grey Havens, Shore never over-cooking the emotional cake - again, because the emotional climax takes place ON SCREEN. And when that Friendship Theme kicks in and is given full rein in the strings we realize how far this marvellous story and film and music journey has taken us from its beginnings. The Grey Havens a lapping, lulling, sea journey, a gentle fading over the horizon. Perfect.
All topped off by the simple, direct power of Annie Lennox's vocals with Into The West - with a brief but exquisite orchestral sign-off that tips a nod to Wagner's Das Rheingold, Die Walkure AND Gotterdammerung!!! (there is little that's completely original in film music folks, asks Hans Zimmer, John Williams and James Horner!)
Where have all the melodies in Classical Music gone? that oft-repeated lament - ah, they're here!!! In Soundtrack Music! And Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings Trilogy is right up there with the best of them. There's already a 6 movement symphony (Mahler would be proud!) of the Trilogy Shore has composed for those who can't cope with the elliptical music cues, and a complete musical score of some ten hours + in the offing in the near future!!!
For now, buy this! It's stonking good stuff!
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on 12 December 2003
Anyone expecting the grandeur of the two towers soundtrack may be disappointed at first by the quieter nature of this soundtrack. but its more befitting considering the darkness and tragedy surrounding the events in the film. there is no more bravado and swagger, just reflection and sorrow. the music reflects this with more sad pieces of music. but they're beautiful pieces. from 'Hope and Memory', the themes are stirring despite their restrained nature. Once you hear 'Minas Tirith', you'll know you're in the presence of genius. The first half of the record uses the great Gondor motif to good effect, combining it with a sense of urgency as shown in 'The Steward of Gondor', with a surprising and nice song by Billy Boyd that is moving, for Pippin isn't a character associated with the melancholy that the piece has. The early pieces are short and sweet. 'Minas Morgul' is a two minute scare-fest, breathing menacing new life into the old Mordor theme as seen in the other films. Renee Fleming has a stunning, distinctive, moving voice as used to great effect through the soundtrack.
As is the case with The Two Towers soundtrack, it really comes into its own towards the end. Another great trilogy of songs round it off sublimely. 'The Black Gate Opens', 'The End of All Things' and 'The Return of the King' really are works of art. This soundtrack would be great classical music on its own. It would be great, full stop. To have it alongside three of the greatest films of all time leave it to be given the stature it deserves.
If you liked the Two Towers soundtrack but not the Fellowship soundtrack, you are mad but then I would say you might not find this as good as the Two Towers. But then you'd be in the minority. This is fantastic music.
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on 19 November 2003
I have heard excerpts from the soundtrack on AOL and Classic FM as well as teaser exceprts from each of the tracks available on line. Overall this is a fantastic climax to the operatic trilogy of soundtracks that Howard Shore has lovingly composed. Shore's only reservation: he only had three years to compose music for (i) a writing endeavour that took JRR Tolkien and (ii) a film making endeavour that took Peter Jackson many more years to create. For anyone who is familiar with the story, the closing track, sung beautifully by Annie Lennox, cannot fail to bring you to tears in a cathartic mixture of sadness and hope, just as the final pages of the book itself bring you to tears. The other tracks introduce some new themes for the Kingdom and Characters of Gondor, but of course also build on the themes first presented and developed in Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. A must for anyone with a heart and an understanding of Tolkien's deeper messages! The bonus DVD about the composition and production of the soundtrack can only help to enhance the experience of the music itself. This (like the film) is a labour of love.
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on 20 November 2006
After producing two stunning soundtracks for the previous two Lord Of The Rings albums, Howard Shore proves that there is still some musical fuel left in his composing tank. 'The Lord Of The Rings; The Return Of The King' is a masterpiece. Enough said. All the tracks are memorable in some form or and another, but all in a good way. But one of the main things about this album is how powerful all the songs are, and the reason behind that is the more familar melodies have been expanded and enlarged, with new and innovative harmonies, backing voices and solos adding to the musical harmonies. Remember the theme for, what was in 'The Fellowship...', Boromir? Well, listen to the track 'Minas Tirith' and you here the same song, but it sounds as if it has been exploded outwards. It's now a huge orchestral masterpiece, far from the single horn heard in the first film. This album, in some ways, is therefore a uniting of all the previous songs, and it brings all of the previous musical adventures that Shore undertook to create the other soundtracks back around to a dramatic and polished ending. Because of this 'plot' to the music, it is possible to follow the films whilst just listening to the music. That is how brilliantly Shore has made this.

But onto the individual songs. One of the highlights of the album for me is 'Minas Tirith'/'The White Tree'/'. Why are these two joined together? They are not actually track wise, but they flow so well that it is easy to forget they are different songs. They are both based around the theme for Minas Tirith and Gondor, but, as I said at the beginning, they have musical exploded to be gigantic, profound masterpieces. I find it hard to believe anyone who did not have shivers running up and down their spine whilst listening to these two in particular. 'The Ride Of The Rohirrim' is a welcome return of the strings and horns combination that was so recognised with Rohan, and again, we see a link of Shore's work in this film with that of 'The Two Towers' - its a beautifully crafted song, with as much expression and emotion crammed into it as you could possible have. 'The Fields Of Pelennor' is one of the loudest and warlike tracks on the album, which it needs to be to cope with what's happening on the screen. And it does. The contrast of the multiple themes and recuring melodic lines that we, as an audience, associate with the groups of Middle-Earth, all clash here beautifully, as a representation of the armies clashing together. It's a great piece of work, with the full power of the orchestra running through it. The last few tracks I want to mention are 'The Return Of The King'/'The Grey Havens'. These are the best songs in terms of reflecting the film, as it is so easy to imagine the film whilst listening. Viggo Mortensen's solo is amazing, and creates one of the most atmospheric sections of the album. 'The Grey Havens' brings the soundtrack to a calm, and ultimately, happy end with such expert skill and passsion that you don't want it to end.

Although I've only mentioned a few, all the songs are well worth listening to, and the album, as a complete soundtrack, is spectacular. It's a true testament to the films in every respect. And as I sit here, writing this review and listening to 'The Grey Havens', I can't help but think Howard Shore should do all the soundtracks to any film now - if this alone is anything to go by, they will all be passionate and exciting masterpieces of music.
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on 25 November 2003
This was superb, on par with the first two. the Minas Tirith theme is excellant and I like the added soloists (Billy Boid and Viggo Mortensen) - they make it sound real. At first I had doubts about Annie Lennox - I didn't think it would fit with Middle-Earth - but it sounds superb, certainly on par with May it Be and Gollum's Song from the previous two films. Nice one Howard Shore. i'm just dissapointed that there won't be any more.
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