This final chapter of Peter Jackson's sprawling adaptation of Tolkien's "Ring" trilogy closes out one of the most accomplished cycles in cinema--and film music--history. As he's done for the saga's first two installments, composer Howard Shore has honed a mature, brooding orchestral masterpiece that's long on subtle shadings of mood and nuance, while eschewing the hollow bombast that's characterized all too many mainstream action and adventure films for three decades. If anything, he's pared this chapter of his music for Middle Earth even closer to the bone, the trilogy's familiar themes repeated with a sparing hand that only heightens their dramatic power. Like Herrmann
before him, Shore has a preternatural understanding of orchestral timbres and their almost mystical connections with human emotions, and he's used it here to close out this remarkable trilogy with Wagnerian dramatic sweep, yet one with a distinctly modern, understated melodic sense that is Shore's alone. James Galway and Renee Fleming make key instrumental and vocal contributions, respectively, while Annie Lennox
's soulful "Into the West" makes the expected, if unobtrusive, bow to the theatrical pop song conventions. --Jerry McCulley
The final film in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy will be a certain blockbuster. The soundtrack albums to the previous films have been hits and award winners. Now with The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King featuring a track by Annie Lennox, this score album from the series' composer Howard Shore is sure to score with movie fans.