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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King OST


Review: Dean Allen

THE final part in Howard Shore's grand operatic musical companion to the Lord of the Rings trilogy is once again a stunning piece of music that perfectly encapsulates all of the themes begun in the Fellowship and The Two Towers.

As the final act of an opera, all of the themes previously established return, either in heroic or melancholic tones.

As an opposite to the fighting spirit of war that so consumed The Two Towers, the music for Return of the King is gentle and peaceful, with the occasional hint of darkness.

The unexpected, delicate beginning of 'A Storm is Coming' reprises the ring theme, but played by a solo fiddle, and then quickly moves into the foreboding theme of the Ringwraiths.

It's the combination of light and dark that so categorizes this soundtrack.

Once again, Shore uses collaborations to enhance the score, with Billy Boyd and Viggo Mortensen showing surprising vocal talents in 'The Steward of Gondor' and 'The Return of the King' respectively.

The heroic moments in 'The White Tree' and the choral splendor of 'The Fields of Pelennor' are standout moments.

'Shelob's Lair' is an incredibly unsettling piece of music, with sinister and unpredictable strings stabbing fiercely.

The triumvirate of 'The End of All Things', 'The Return of the King' and 'The Grey Havens' are the tracks that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Highly emotive, it's here where Shore weaves together all of the themes associated with the three films. The gentle playful Hobbit theme, heard at the very beginning of the Fellowship, finally returns, as does a final, heroic flourish of the Fellowship theme itself.

Annie Lennox provides the traditional final song, which, though not as immediate as 'Gollum's Song' from The Two Towers, does fit in well with the final few tracks on the soundtrack.

More folkish than previous songs, with gentle guitar plucking in the background, it's a great song, but Lennox's vocals are, perhaps, too well known.

With the exception of John Williams and the Star Wars trilogies, composers rarely work safe in the knowledge that they are working on three films over a given time.

With this luxury, Shore has composed a musical trilogy that works equally well singularly, but as a three-film piece ranks high among the greatest soundtrack work of all time.

We can only hope that a complete score for all the films (and extended editions) will be released soon.

Track listing:
1. A Storm Is Coming: Hope and Memory. Minas Trith (featuring Ben del Maestro)
2. The White Tree: The Steward of Gondor (featuring Billy Boyd)
3. Minas Morgul: The Ride Of The Rohirrim: Twilight And Shadow (featuring Renee Fleming)
4. Cirith Ungol
5. Anduril
6. Shelob’s Lair
7. Ash And Smoke
8. The Fields Of The Pelennor
9. Hope Fails
10. The Black Gate Opens (featuring Sir James Galway)
11. The End Of All Things (featuring Renee Fleming)
12. The Return Of The King (Featuring Sir James Galway, Viggo Mortensen & Renee Fleming
13. The Grey Havens (featuring Sir James Galway)
14. Into The West (performed by Annie Lennox)

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