Shore: The Lord of the Rings Symphony

Album review
Shore: The Lord of the Rings Symphony

Howard Shore

The Lord of the Rings Symphony

Label: BR Klassik
Media: CD
Genre: Classical

Howard Shore’s many high-profile film scores include most of David Cronenberg’s movies, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Aviator. His grandest achievement, however, is his music for The Lord of the Rings—this earned him two Academy Awards. But what was undeniably effective in the context of cinema seems repetitive, unimaginative, and surprisingly inert when configured for concert performance. And interminable. The six-movement Symphony runs about 115 minutes, about a quarter-hour longer than Mahler’s Third. The continually recurring harmonic progressions, extended sequences, and percussion ostinatos may serve to create mood in a film but, when there are no New Zealand landscapes or CGI to look at, become tedious. Alongside Shore’s vaguely Celtic syntax are nods to Carmina Burana (but crasser) and Wagner (without the internal unity). Much of the choral and solo vocal material is sung in one of the made-up “Tolkien languages,” which lends an air of authenticity to the movie but seems silly in concert. The recording derives from capable 2011 performances by a Swiss orchestra and chorus. The sound is robust and dynamic, though there’s some pretty egregious spotlighting of solo instruments and singers. 

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  • composer, Howard Shore
  • CD

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