The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Howard Shore

" It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. Such a little thing! Little? 3 CD's! "

Written by Thomas Glorieux - Review of the collector's edition

Having read my original review of The Fellowship of the Ring, I must admit I was a fool and a lousy reviewer. Hopefully my experience paid of because I will review now one of movie music's biggest and best scores ever. Namely the Lord of the Rings music, divided in 3 parts, 3 scores and soon in 10 different Cd's containing all the same themes and expansions that make it a must to have. A must to have that still has despite everything some very small setbacks, and this merely in the listening experience.

I'm afraid 3 Cd's or basically 3 hours is a bit too much really. While it is extremely nice to have everything Shore has written, it is a lot to grasp on to. Do not forget, this is not the music heard in the film, but the music heard in the expanded editions of the movies. Meaning the non edited films, making only tracks you know by heart longer whilst covering new ideas. So I think 2 hours and somewhat more should have been enough for most fans.

Secondly, as we said it, this is the music for the non edited films and therefore some tracks you recall from the original soundtrack appear to be longer and covering new ideas, this at times makes you a bit uneasy because you have gotten to know them like this, in the film and on CD. Now it changes a bit everything from what you heard and noticed in the film.

However do not fear, because while this might make the first and second listen somewhat new and more attentive, it also shows that Shore continued to weave with themes from front to back and from start to finish. There's never a quality loss in the composition and there's never a moment a theme isn't used. But perhaps it is at certain times a bit dull, because we must say it, 3 hours is quite long. Of course, The Fellowship of the Ring is the least action based effort of the 3. But this special edition shows nonetheless new hidden treasures, making it for LOTR fans still an intriguing, wonderful and captivating listening experience. Enough to dazzle the persons who thought they heard it all.

With CD 1 we have the beginning of the story, but also the character development and therefore the least action based part of the 3 CD edition. "Prologue: One Ring to Rule them All" opens with Galadriel's theme and the now famous ring theme (over the letters) before unused action music and heroic music (heard in the subsequent films) grows to the choral action music and the ring theme. This track is a lot longer and covers despite everything still minutes of new music.

"The Shire" is completely new and surprisingly it captures alongside the Hobbit theme already a statement of the Fellowship theme, with playful variations on the Hobbit theme following. What's also surprising is that the occasional singing of the actors is presented too. For instance we have Gandalf's song in "Bag End" and a folksy dance in "Flaming Red Hair". "Farewell Dear Bilbo" shows the journey theme (heard at the end of this film) exploding into feisty racing music (for the fireworks display).

"Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe" is a long new track. Mysterious choir growing unrestless over the first display of the ring before the Hobbit theme appears (sung by Bilbo) alongside the ring theme. What's keen also is the first appearance of Sauron's powerful theme and the signing of Merry and Pippin joyously amusing the hobbits. "A Conspiracy Unmasked" is a lovely hobbit moment before somber mood unveils Gollum's sad story. This happens through the ring theme and the growing Nazgul theme.

"Three is Company" shows again strangely a soft choir leading to the Fellowship theme while "The Passing of The Elves" is completely new, bringing a song not written by Shore. Thanks to "Saruman the White", we reach again the more interesting and powerful music. Hobbit and Fellowship themes lead the road to the big brassy choir and the excellent gothic allure of Saruman's fight with Gandalf.

Perhaps you expected "A Shortcut to Mushrooms" to be boring, but the dark Nazgul motif with choir and brass is still enough to get the chills. "The Nazgul", the final track brings more new material. It combines the Nazgul theme, rhythmic parts of the Fellowship theme (with new heroic material) and the singing of Strider to close what's basically a warming up CD.

Perhaps the warming up is needed to get into the majestic flow of the rest, but "Weathertop" is nonetheless the shrieking descending Nazgul music with choir. "The Caverns of Isengard" is strangely first based on the action music heard in the Khazad Dum track, this all before the marching Uruk-Hai music appears. The sound clarity alone here is noticed here very well, as it must be said that the entire 3 CD collection portrays a stunning quality and clarity that eclipses the original versions easily.

"Give Up that Halfling" is another good track with new twists, using soft choir at begin and end for Arwen and Frodo. In the midst of all this, chasing Nazgul music and heroic brass of the sweeping river presents us more Nazgul music. "Rivendell" shows us the Hobbit theme with naturally the wonderful Elves theme, followed with variations in "The Sword that was Broken". Here you'll notice the depth alone in shore's writing.

"The Council of Elrond Assembles" unveils another theme, the love theme for Arwen and Aragorn written by Enya. But many people were looking forward to something else. Namely the soft whispers of the Minas Tirith theme in "The Great Eye". Here the rise of the Fellowship theme is the icing on the cake.

"Gilraen's Memorial" is another new track and another wonderful addition to the Shore cannon. Soft choral accompaniment uses stunning variations on the Hobbit theme, showing once or twice the song theme "In Dreams" and the powerful Fellowship statement on brass when they all pass for the camera (a track that was presented on the original version only as the theme).

With "The Pass of Caradhras" we hear once again the evil growing over Shore's happy begin. The sinister strings, the marching Uruk-Hai music (loud as hell) and the heroic brass at the end show more of Shore's unreleased music. So too explains "The Doors of Durin" new tales and this with ethereal choir for the opening of the door, and rising dissonance with low dark brass for the water monster (reminding you perhaps of Shelob's music as well).

"Moria" has choir for the sinister darkness and the sad "Gollum" partly plays the Hobbit theme. But it is "Balin's Tomb" that gives us 3 distinctive highlights. First the Moria fanfare for the gothic beauty of its deserted structures. Secondly the attack in the tomb itself bringing rhythmic brass assaults (once again new material) before more emotional material lays a somber tone on the whole quest. However the third part waits until the very end to state the Fellowship's exploding theme.

With disc number 3 we have the more decisive splitting of the fellowship and the more emotional content of the story. This works well considering we've come full circle. We open with "Khazad Dum". This was the best track on the commercial CD but here the opening of the fellowship theme was used in the last track of CD 2. So now we open this track with the low dark chanting choir. Of course you know the rest. The escape of the fellowship with the spectacular build up to that significant choral outburst and Fellowship theme statement. It remains absolutely stunning.

The long ethereal and mysterious "Caras Galadhon" shows the other Elfish theme. Besides the ring theme we have the Galadriel leitmotif and the Elf musical theme. This all is expanded in "The Mirror of Galadriel" with only a couple of Sauron statements to puncture the mystery.

"The Fighting Uruk-Hai" is the longest track on the whole 3 CD edition and strangely it doesn't bring a lot of action music. The Uruk-Hai statements, the Galadriel ethereal whispers, the Fellowship theme, the soft Hobbit theme and the ring theme make their appearances but no real action music is here to be found. This is actually held for "Parth Galen", the begin of a most spectacular finish.

In this track all the themes appear again (with especially the Nazgul motif as most prominent of them all). But it is the brilliant choral music at the end that makes all the fuzz, bringing new material to an already winning track. "The Departure of Boromir" is the sad goodbye to a beloved character.

The final track is split into 3 parts. "The Road goes Ever On ... Pt 1" brings us the wonderful music when Frodo and Sam part their way from the other group while "May it Be" is sandwiched in between this track and "The Road goes Ever On ... Pt 2". In here the song 'In Dreams' is heard with an Elfish statement and the final rise of the Fellowship theme.

Amazing but it is true. 3 discs can bring so much music and still you'll discover surprises. That 2 full 75 minute Cd's would have made the listening experience better is perhaps true. But the many theme variations and statements still present a depth of brilliance that only one composer has matched today. Alongside Star Wars, LOTR is a testament in movie composition and craftsmanship and only these 2 saga's have brought us music that inspires, amazes and moves. This is a lavish release that does have its price. The good thing is, it returns every penny back through quality design, presentation and performance. Namely we have A Winner on our hands!


Disk One: 58.3
1. Prologue: One Ring to Rule Them All (7.16) Excellent track
2. The Shire (2.29)
3. Bag End (4.35)
4. Very Old Friends (3.11)
5. Flaming Red Hair (2.38)
6. Farewell Dear Bilbo (1.45)
7. Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe (8.53)
8. A Conspiracy Unmasked (6.09)
9. Three is Company (1.58)
10. The Passing of the Elves (2.39)
11. Saruman the White (4.09) Excellent track
12. A Shortcut to Mushrooms (4.07) [ET
13. Strider (2.34)
14. The Nazgul (6.04)

Disk Two: 59.09
1. Weathertop (2.14)
2. The Caverns of Isengard (4.54) Excellent track
3. Give Up That Halfling (4.49) Excellent track
4. Orthanc (1.06)
5. Rivendell (3.26)
6. The Sword That Was Broken (3.34)
7. The Council of Elrond Assembles * (4.01)
8. The Great Eye (5.30) Excellent track
9. Gilraen's Memorial (4.01) Excellent track
10. The Pass of Caradhras (5.04)
11. The Doors of Durin (6.03)
12. Moria (2.27)
13. Gollum (2.26)
14. Balin's Tomb (8.30) Excellent track

Disk Three: 63.03
1. Khazad Dum (8.00) Excellent track
2. Caras Galadhon ** (9.20)
3. The Mirror of Galadriel (6.21)
4. The Fighting Uruk-Hai (11.32)
5. Parth Galen (9.13) Excellent track
6. The Departure of Boromir (5.29) Excellent track
7. The Road Goes Ever On ... Pt 1 (5.58) Excellent track
8. May It Be *** (3.26) Excellent track
9. The Road Goes Ever On ... Pt 2 **** (3.41) Excellent track

* featuring "Aniron" (theme for Aragorn & Arwen), composed & perf. by Enya
** featuring "Lament for Gandalf" performed by Elizabeth Fraser
*** composed & performed by Enya
**** featuring "In Dreams" performed by Edward Ross
(click to rate this score)  
(total of 56 votes - average 4.74/5)

Released by

Reprise Records 49454-2 (regular release 2005)

Conducted & Orchestrated by

Howard Shore

Performed by

The London Philharmonic Orchestra, The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra & The London Voices