The Return of the King (The Complete Recordings)With almost four hours of music on four discs, Howard Shore’s Oscar-winning score for the final chapter of the epic trilogy, has been given the royal treatment of its two predecessors. Released a year apart like the films themselves, these soundtracks account for the film scores in their entirety… and then some. This final entry also includes a fifth disc: a DVD-Audio presentation of the entire Return of the King soundtrack designed for the true audiophile who has the need (and the capability) to play the soundtrack in Advanced Resolution Surround Sound, Advanced Resolution Stereo Sound, Dolby Digital Surround Sound, or Dolby Digital Stereo Sound.

With heavy, action-oriented themes demarking intense battle sequences and showdowns as well as soft, lighter pieces embodying various characters in the story and happier events, this cd set has it all. From “The Paths of the Dead” to “The Parting of Sam and Frodo” to “The Passing of Theodon,” there’s not a memorable moment in the film that isn’t captured expertly in these tracks. It’s no wonder Howard Shore has been awarded three Oscars, four Grammy Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards for his work on The Lord of the Rings.

Ominous pieces like “Shelob the Great” instill a sense of urgency and danger while the short track “The Green Dragon” features jocular singing hobbits and a single stringed instrument. The majority of the score is written for an epic symphony orchestra and was, in fact, performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra. Many of the actors make vocal appearances throughout the tracks, and Annie Lennox lends her voice to the 11-minute “Days of the Ring,” which is sure to make any fan’s speakers rejoice.

What is most evident after listening to these discs is the incredible amount of effort Shore has put into his score. His diligence and research have been abundantly lauded, but there truly is not enough to say about his ability to capture the essence of an entire other world and atmosphere with such musical eloquence and consistency. Anyone who enjoys the films should look next to this awe-inspiring recording for more of that most elusive of all musics to the common man: exciting and relatable orchestra music.

Zach’s Rating: A
Perfect For: The audiophile who can’t get enough Lord of the Rings
Stay Away if: The abridged soundtrack was more than enough for you

To purchase The Complete Recordings, visit Amazon
For more reviews by Zach Freeman, visit his hubpage

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