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Soundtrack: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) 
Composer/Director: Howard Shore with two original vocal selections by Enya 
Label: Reprise 9-48110-2 (2001) 
Length: 73 minutes 

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack harkens back to the epic film where music was as much a part of the story as the dialogue.  This soundtrack features two new songs composed and sung by Enya. Howard Shore, has a composer's dream, by being able to work with two orchestras, the  London  Philharmonic Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. 

Howard Shore faced the same daunting task as John Williams. How to compose music for the first of a series of books being adapted for the screen.  Williams worked on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, while Howard Shore has The Fellowship of the Ring.---two different authors (J. K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien) two different writing styles. It's the same with the composers; John Williams is recognized for the youthful E.T. soundtrack, while Shore (never nominated for an Academy Award) is known for Silence of the Lambs and The Cell.   

This entire soundtrack has a decidedly Celtic flavor. Tolkien's creation of Middle Earth comes across as anywhere north of London. There is a recurrent theme in the soundtrack (sometimes identified by the use of a penny whistle) and that is of the Hobbits ('Concerning Hobbits") who are shorter than average height and mostly live underground.  The Hobbits are entrusted with a powerful gold ring that must be returned to its place of origin to be destroyed.  The story has the Hobbits joining forces with elves, dwarfs and men to battle evil forces who would take the ring for themselves.  Whenever there is something important going on, the Hobbit theme will be there.   

The other themes are that of two songs, "In Dreams" (Howard Shore and Fran Walsh) and "May It Be" (Enya.)  "In Dreams" is sung by The London Oratory School Schola with Edward Ross in The Breaking of the Fellowship.  ("but in dreams I still hear your name and in dreams we will meet again").  This track is beautifully done with the choir alternating with penny whistle, a touch of the Hobbit theme, and soft strings. Enya's haunting voice on "May It Be" ("believe and you will find your way/¦a promise lives within you now") is at the end of the soundtrack, and though the song can stand alone as a single, it is there to let the audience know there certainly is more to come. 

Since this is a story of adventure in Middle Earth, complete with friendship, warfare and betrayal, the entire orchestra can be utilized.  Strings and woodwinds for "Concerning Hobbits," "Council of Elrond," "Lothlarien" and "The Ring Goes South."  Then, the percussion and brass sections get a work-out on "The Prophecy," "Treason of Isangard," "Many Meetings," "Bridge of Khazad Dum" and "Amon Hen."  Striking metal against metal in 3 / 4 rhythm (clash, clash pause..clash, clash pause.) gives an urgent feeling that time is of the essence and danger is everywhere.   

Of the eighteen tracks on the soundtrack, ten have foreboding moods.  "Shadow of the Past" has a Borodin flavor to it with dissonant chords and a Middle Eastern taste with chorus and tympani. Shore can get carried away using the percussion section.  "The Black Rider, " "A Knife In The Dark" and "Flight to the Ford" are similar with tympani and cymbals in the forefront. In the story, the journey, fraught with peril, begins and treachery is everywhere. This will be the last time that men and elves work together.   

The other eight tracks comprise background chorus and "The Hobbit" theme, which is memorable.   The danger mood and pastoral mood alternate well. Since the other two movies in the series, The Two Towers (2002) and Return of the King (2003) are being filmed now; Howard Shore has his work cut out for him. This soundtrack is actually one-third of the whole---and you thought Wagner composed the only Ring cycle? 

Copyright 2001Marie Asner  12/1/2001 



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