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Saturday, December 31, 2005

CD REVIEW - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - The Complete Recordings

Music by Howard Shore
Reprise Records 49454-2
Disc 1 - 14 Tracks 58:37 mins Disc 2 - 14 Tracks 59:09 mins Disc 3 - 9 Tracks 63:03 mins

We had all been expecting them, but had been lead to believe that when the complete recordings from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy were released they would be in one huge boxed set, featuring every note from the three extended editions of the films, with possibly a DVD of all kinds of material as a bonus. This always seemed to me to be a wonderful but likely prohibitively expensive item, so perhaps it was with some relief when I learnt that the decision had been taken to release the three scores separately, at least I hope that will be the case, but maybe it will depend on sales of the first score, which is in itself quite pricey, though worth it I'm sure, if you're a true fan of the films and of film music in general.
The release is impressively packaged in a box made to resemble a bound edition of the first book in the trilogy. Inside the cover is attached a DVD, not of the kind expected, but containing the complete score in superior digital sound, and you can choose four formats to play it in, depending on your equipment. If you have a humble DVD player like me, you should be able to play it and will be rewarded with wonderful crisp sound, revealing every little nuance of the music and if you listen hard enough, I swear you can almost hear the orchestra's hair growing!
Getting past the cover, the inner packaging lifts out and again resembles a book with the three CDs of the score sitting inside, with their track listings alongside. I just haven't the time unfortunately to go into a detailed account of the music, so would guide you to the reviews section at for a detailed analysis. Suffice to say that the original soundtrack recording that appeared at the time of the film's release featured 71 minutes of music, quite a bit of which was edited in one way or another, and there is over three hours of music presented here, which is indeed the complete score for the extended DVD version of the film. Because of this editing, the track titles on the original CD seldom correspond with those on this release, so you will have to search through for your favourite moments, but they will mostly be there somewhere, though perhaps in a different context than on the original.
Unfortunately, there is no cue-by-cue guide contained in the accompanying 45-page booklet, which might have helped. Instead, Doug Adams, whose book The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films is released in 2006, provides a summary of the score, together with a thematic breakdown, because this is, after all, the film where most of the themes from all three films are introduced.
I can't recommend this release highly enough, but do shop around for it, as prices can vary wildly. I just hope that it is the success it deserves to be, so that further releases of the complete scores for The Two Towers and The Return of the King are guaranteed to become a reality.


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