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77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning musical journery in deluxe package
This deluxe edition of the soundtrack to "The Return of the King" has the exact same music as the regular edition, but comes in a beautiful leather package. Casual listeners should save money and buy the regular edition, but Tolkien fans will want this durable, bookshelf beauty instead. (Being a complete Tolkien nut, I bought both.)
The third of Howard...
Published on February 9, 2004 by Claude Avary

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't get me wrong...
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the music. It's some of the most moving music ever composed for film. My beef is with this "Limited Edition" soundtrack, and that complaint is the "limited" part. Although the soundtrack for FotR suffered from cut-and-paste it at least managed to play in film order. This one felt like the editor chose the tracks and order...
Published on March 6, 2004 by Amazon Customer


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77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning musical journery in deluxe package, February 9, 2004
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This deluxe edition of the soundtrack to "The Return of the King" has the exact same music as the regular edition, but comes in a beautiful leather package. Casual listeners should save money and buy the regular edition, but Tolkien fans will want this durable, bookshelf beauty instead. (Being a complete Tolkien nut, I bought both.)
The third of Howard Shore's soundtrack albums to the "Lord of the Rings" movie trilogy is, like the film itself, the best of the best. The albums for both "The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Two Towers" were superb, stunning orchestral storyscapes that perfectly caught Tolkien's Middle-Earth and were wonderful individual listening experiences on their own, away from the films. The perfect music to read Tolkien by.
But this is the big one. This is the masterpiece. This is some of best film music of the last decade. Shore surpasses himself in every way on this score.
The new major theme for the score is the Gondor Theme, heard in fullest expression in the inspiring track "The White Tree" (actually, this is the music for the lighting of the beacons of Gondor) and also in "Minas Tirith" and the lonely, sad track "The Steward of Gondor," where Billy Boyd provides a haunting song to accompany a massacre. (Boyd's voice is a real surprise -- he sounds professional).
The other themes from the early films return, with Shore adapting them and changing them in surprising ways. You'll thrill to hearing the Rohirrim theme in "The Ride of the Rohirrim" as well as the way the theme introduces the real stand-out track of the album, "The Fields of Pelennor," a masterpiece suite describing various aspects of the battle around Minas Tirith. This track achieves almost a sublime level of action and power (screaming chorus, driving brass, and Shore's characteristic delayed resolution to build suspense) and is the musical highlight of the three albums. (I stood up cheered at the end the first time I heard it, even though I was alone.)
"Shelob's Lair" is also an amazing track, filled with jabbing, crazy strings and a sense of rising panic. You can hear the giant spider moving around in the music and it will make you as afraid as Frodo himself was.
Shore pounds the story into an orchestral rage for "The End of All Things," which is the story's climax and an overwhelming track of rapidly shifting emotions and explosions of choral fury. It will quite wring you out the same way the movie does at this point.
For quieter moments, there are beautiful and inspiring tracks like "Twilight and Shadow" (dealing with Arwen) and the lengthy ten-minute track "The Return of the King," which sums up all the major themes and at last brings us full circle to the sprightly Hobbiton theme first heard back in "The Fellowship of the Ring." Shore ends it all with grace and quiet beauty in the subtle and sad track "The Grey Havens," which uses a theme that had grown throughout the score. This theme then becomes the soft and soulful Annie Lennox song, "Into the West," the perfect conclusion to the album.
I've come across few soundtrack albums as well put together as this. Anyone who loves Tolkien, film music, or great orchestral music, MUST buy this album.
My only complaint? There's so much more music in the film than they could fit on a single CD. A big deluxe double CD with more of the music would be appreciated in the near future.
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142 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect fit for the perfect movie, December 20, 2003
By 
Amazon Customer (Lexington, Kentucky) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Audio CD)
Howard Shore has proven his talent beyond any doubt with this, the third and final of the three soundtracks for The Lord of the Rings movies. The music is the perfect score for the three most incredible movies the world has seen, taking us from emotional heights, to depths, to simple and quiet moments with some of the most wonderful music you'll ever hope to hear, regardless of whether or not you have seen, or even wish to see, the cinema trilogy by New Line.
I'd hoped to do a track-by-track analysis, but I simply don't have room, so I'll share some of this CD's better tracks.
Track 3 (3:38): It starts out with dangerous overtones, as Pippin attempts to steal the Palantír from Gandalf, and the terrible consequences of his deed. Gandalf takes him to the city of Gondor, and we hear the premiere of Shore's theme for the City of Kings. (Actually, we first heard a sampling of the Gondor theme in the first movie, when Aragorn is first spoken of as the exiled king, and again in the motion picture preview released earlier in 2003) A wonderful choir makes way to the splendorous, magnificent theme for Gondor, perfectly capturing all the wonder and awe of the city. Awesome. Actually, the solo by Ben Del Maestro, I have concurred, is the part that plays when the White Rider dashes out onto the planes to challenge the Nazgűl.
Track 4 (3:25): A solemn tune, with distinctive Death of Boromir overtones, then the theme for Gondor again, just as grand as before. I believe (I'm big on figuring out which part of the soundtrack goes to which part of the movie) that this is the glorious music that plays as Gandalf rides through the citadel of Gondor, to the very top level of the city.
Track 5 (3:53): Not EXACTLY one of my favorite picks, but I had to comment on this one since it is the one with Billy Boyd's solo. In the beginning, it is primarily flute, along with other, somber-sounding instruments mixed in. Gondorian theme again, quieter this time. This, I have figured out, is the sad music that plays as Faramir leads his troops out onto the field. At 2:35 on the CD counter, Billy Boyd begins his quiet, dirge-like solo which provides the background theme for Faramir's suicide charge on enemy ranks. And yes, it is a very lovely, though somber and sad song. Billy Boyd sings it very well.
Track 7 (2:09): The action-oriented muster of Rohan's troops. As you could expect, the theme of Rohan from The Two Towers prevails in a heroic and magnificent way. In the middle, there is a quiet moment where Shore makes use of the generally-saved-for-hobbits Celtic-sounding flute. The track picks back up triumphantly before it ends.
Track 10 (2:35): Quiet beginning, with Rivendell overtones. Another tune begins, a very royal and glorious as the sword of kings is reforged anew. The end transitions to the creepy Paths of the Dead theme.
Track 13 (3:26): Slow beginning, then a very drawn-out tune of hopefulness. Rohan's arrival to Gondor's aid? Then the stunning, dramatic theme for the Ringwraiths is blasted out by the incredible choir Howard Shore commands. It may be the bad guy theme, but it is still incredible to hear. The track is too short, in my opinion.
Track 15 (4:02): The last desperate stand of Aragorn's troops before Mordor's endless ranks. At the same time, the quiet flute plays as Frodo works against all odds to climb the mountain of doom. This track and the next are the themes for the most powerful, poignant moments in the movie, and are NOT to be missed. (Referring to the music, but the movie too!)
Track 16 (5:13): Terribly desperate, frantic choir plays during the final moments of the climax at Mt. Doom and the Black Gate. A silent moment appears, with a slow solo by Renee Fleming, as Aragorn faces down the Eye of Sauron. Shore makes brilliant use of the choir - well, pretty much any time he uses them for his Lord of the Rings film score, but especially in this case.
Track 19 (5:48): Of the three songs (May it Be, Gollum's Song, and Into the West) that Howard Shore has featured on his soundtrack, I nominate this one as the best. It is sung by Annie Lennox, whose voice credit-viewers may recognize from Apollo 13's end credits. Her voice in this sounds somehow a little less feminine, and a little more like a male with a high-pitched voice, but that's just an observation, not a complaint. The song itself is really great. It sings in very poetic, descriptive terms basically of Heaven. For anyone, but particularly believers in Jesus like me, it is an especially inspiring and thrilling song of hope for the World to Come; of heaven. Beautiful. And as usual, the end credits song also includes a bit of the film score after the song.
Folks, Howard Shore's soundtrack abilities remain unequaled. For fans of the film, the music is an excellent way to relive parts of the movie when silly things like, say, real life prevent you from going to the theater. For people who haven't seen the movie, this music is awesome no matter which way you dice it. Please, please buy this CD.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There and Back Again: A Grand Finale, December 8, 2003
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Audio CD)
This music is the completion of a journey begun over two years ago.
When I first heard, quite a while ago now, that Howard Shore had been selected to write the music for "The Lord of the Rings" films, I wasn't sure what to think. I liked Shore's music well enough from movies like "Silence of the Lambs" or "Seven," but I wasn't sure how he would handle the epic nature of something like this. Three times over now, Shore has proven to me (and to many others) that he is quite capable of expressing everything that makes "The Lord of the Rings" such a grand story in his music.
The score for "Return of the King" is the most grand and sweeping of the three scores, which is as it should be, since the events of the story are of the largest scale. And yet, somehow the music finds moments of intimacy and soft beauty, even amidst all the epic movements and operatic themes.
Each of the different tracks on the album is recognizable for its theme: "The White Tree" is a powerful and noble theme for Gondor, "Shelob's Lair" is a terrifying piece for its namesake, "The Steward of Gondor" is a softly moving march accompanied by panflute, with a surprisingly-moving vocal piece by Billy Boyd (Pippin in the film), and "Minas Morgul" is an even more intense repriese of the recurrent theme for the Nazgul. "The Fields of the Pelennor" will rouse you right out of your seat, and "Twilight and Shadow," with the incomparable Renee Fleming lending her gorgeous voice, will make your eyes tear up.
The track that will rip your heart out, though, is definitely "Into the West," with Annie Lennox singing vocals. Such a beautiful, powerful, emotional song is the perfect coda to these films, and an excellent summary for all that has gone before. The first time I heard this song, before I even saw the film, I was left with tears rolling down my cheeks. Of the three songs which play at the end of each film, "Into the West" is easily the best one, the most moving, and the most deeply-felt.
If you get the Special Edition version of this soundtrack, the DVD that accompanies it has some pretty interesting stuff, but it's mostly for movie music buffs. If you're into the process of creating music for motion pictures at all (I definitely am), then the short documentary shown on this DVD is an excellent one. Other than that, the other interesting features are an extra music track ("Use Well the Days," again performed by Annie Lennox) and a long "supertrailer" for the three films. Both are worth seeing, but the documentary was the best part for me, and the real selling point of the extra DVD edition of the soundtrack.
The point of it all is that this is It. From the Fellowship theme to the music of Rohan, from the violent strains of the Dark Lord's minions to the gentle tones of the Shire, this soundtrack brings it all together. It is operatic in scale but intimate in effect. Whether you want to relive the film itself or just find a good accompaniment to read the books by, Howard Shore's music for "Return of the King" provides the perfect musical companion. It is unquestionably a masterful acheivement, and should be required listening for any fan of the films, or any fan of the works of Tolkien.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into the West and into Greatness, July 4, 2004
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This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Audio CD)
In a time when most studios bank on a combination of bubble gum pop, hip hop and rap to sell soundtracks for a film, we are gifted with true greatness. Howard Shore looked at each film as a separate entity that required a continuous bridge as a theme, and different voices to carry each movie to the next. You had Enya (May it Be) for Fellowship of the Ring. For the Two Towers it was Sheila Chandra (Breath of Life), Isabel Bayrakdarian (Evenstar), Ben Del Maestro (Forth Eorlingas, and with Elizabeth Fraser on Isengard Unleashed) and Emiliana Torrini (Gollum's Song.)
On the final soundtrack, we get a host of voices to treasure. We have the sublime in Renee Fleming (Twilight and Shadow, The End of All Things) and Ben del Maestro (Minas Tirith). We also have the flute of James Galway (The Black Gate Opens, The Grey Havens.) But what is most endearing is the voice of Billy Boyd (The Steward of Gondor)and Viggo Mortensen (The Return of the King) singing laments to mark their historical journeys.
Peter Jackson has created a gut wrenching, emotional trilogy. Howard Shore has blessed us with music that grabs your heart and soul and never lets go. I highly recommend all three magnificant sound tracks.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic Soundtrack for an Epic Film, February 22, 2004
By 
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Audio CD)
Soundtracks do not make or mar a film per se, but it cannot be denied that it is an important element. An irritating or faky soundtrack can make you laugh at what should be a serious part of the film, and would probably draw your attention away from the actual movie.
But then sometimes there are those soundtracks that come along that the listener just really likes. It captures the emotion of the film, it can deliver a mighty punch when necessary, but also presents softer parts where they are required. In short, it fits. This is what Howard Shore has done with the Return of the King soundtrack.
Featuring the masterful voices of Ben del Maestro, who had previously worked on the Two Towers soundtrack, Annie Lennox, and Renee Flemming of opera fame, as well as the wonderful London Philharmonic, The London Voices, and The London Oratory School Sola, this soundtrack takes us on a third journey into Howard Shore's music of Middle Earth.
Beginning with a harmless, happy flashback depicting Deagol and Smeagol fishing on the Anduin River, the music is joyous, and somewhat reminiscent of the Shire tunes that featured in the other soundtracks. But before many minutes have passed, the music rapidly descends into a thunderous blend of the two Mordor themes, reminding everyone that the enemy is not defeated yet.
Soon after, we are introduced to a theme that was not in either of the other soundtracks: the motif of Gondor, the mightiest nation of men still extant in Middle Earth. The loud brass music here is sure to remind everyone of the theme for the Fellowship, but it still has its own sound to it, and it well depicts the honor and hope that still lives on in Gondor.
There is another new theme here, encapsulated in one long track, that has not been heard in previous soundtracks, simply because the loathsome creature it portrays has not showed herself before: the theme for Shelob. Starting off with slow, ominous brass depicting her dark lair, it soon kicks off with racing violins as she begins her quest for blood. This is not a track to skip-it doesn't let up much at all, once it gets going.
Just as choral music featured prominently in Two Towers and the Fellowship, it has a key role in the Return of the King as well. It marshalls itself chiefly into two incredible tracks-The Battle of the Pelennor Fields and The End of All Things. In Pelennor we have a variant of the Nazgul theme-a little less subtle than the one we're used to. The pounding chorus here may very well be my favorite part of the entire CD. Did I talk about no letup in Shelob's tune? Try this one.
The End of All Things is another great track-since it depicts the final climax of the film, it has to be pretty dramatic, and it certainly is. This features the excellent voice of Renee Flemming in the quieter parts, and shows that this lady does not need to stick to opera to sound good.
There is one track-only one, mind you-that I am not very enamored with in this CD, and I think it may simply be because the scene it accompanies is one I dislike. This track depicts one of the mercifully rare appearances of Arwen Evenstar in the film-and probably is not intrisically bad music. I think I'm just prejudiced. If you liked Arwen, you'll probably like this.
Shore does something unusual in this soundtrack-two separate actors in the film have small singing parts. One-Billy Boyd's song in track 5, the Steward of Gondor-is quite excellent. The other-Viggo Mortensen's solo in track 17, The Return of the King-is not. Mortensen should have kept just to speaking, but his part is only about thirty seconds to a minute out of a ten-minute, otherwise very good track, so it is not too bad.
And then there is always the final track: Into the West. Annie Lennox give us an emotional, very good song about the final destination of all the good guys in Middle Earth--the western land of Valinor, which seems to be Tolkien's allegory of Heaven. This is an excellent song, and Annie Lennox has a very good voice.
The Return of the King is a wonderful end to a wonderful soundtrack, with recaptions of many of the excellent themes that made appearances in the other two CDs-the Fellowship theme and the Rohan theme, chiefly. With its epic scope and wonderful performers, it is a great soundtrack for a great movie, and is nearly as good standing on its own as it is accompanying the movie. Don't pass it by.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I can't carry the ring, BUT I CAN CARRY YOU!!!", January 24, 2004
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Audio CD)
When I'm studying or working I usually like to put some background instrumental music on. This is not that music. This album commands your full attention from beginning to end. It is a story in itself- frightening, dramatic, triumphant, and above all, incredibly emotional.
One of the most remarkle tracks is "Shelob's Lair." Most of the song is loud and dissonant- the kind of music that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, as it should. However, at the end of the song, it breaks into this absolutely stunning and beautiful denouement that still somehow communicates all the fear and despair in the accompanying scene. I have never heard such a successful combination of beauty and fear. I don't know how Howard Shore did it, but it's amazing.
The triumphant and heart-tugging Gondor theme prevails on many tracks while themes from "Into the West" become more prevalent towards the end. The first dozen or so songs work together to drive the music into the climax where one can't help but hear Sam cry, "I can carry you!" Wow. The last songs of the album succeed in conveying the bittersweet peace that Frodo and the remaining Fellowship members feel at the end of the tale.
One improvement in this album over the preceding two is the inclusion of the singing that is in the film. When Billy Boyd starts singing, I have to stop everything I'm doing and just listen.

I find that I can't listen to this album often because it makes me too emotional. However, this is only a testament to its quality. It is a beautiful, engaging, and moving soundtrack for what I consider to be the best movie ever made.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Howard Shore - A Brilliant Composer, July 4, 2004
I love the movies and love the soundtracks also! Howard Shore is a brilliant composer.
I heard that late this year or in 2005 will be released a BoxSet with 9 CDs of the complete LOTR Movies Soundtracks in Extended Editions. It's a box with the complete soundtracks to all the LOTR Trilogy Movies as seen on screen - Theatrical Versions - YES!
It will be 2 CDs for FOTR, 3 for TT and another 3 for ROTK and an extra CD with rarities and unreleased music from the films with commentary from Howard himself!!
What a BIG surprise!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't get me wrong..., March 6, 2004
By 
Amazon Customer "thesaxman3" (St. Charles, MO United States) - See all my reviews
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the music. It's some of the most moving music ever composed for film. My beef is with this "Limited Edition" soundtrack, and that complaint is the "limited" part. Although the soundtrack for FotR suffered from cut-and-paste it at least managed to play in film order. This one felt like the editor chose the tracks and order by tossing a dart at a list of the different pieces. And here is also the biggest flaw: Two of the BEST musical cues from the film have been cut from this soundtrack: The chorale variation of the main Fellowship Theme from the Battle of the Morannon is gone entirety, as is most of the Charge of the Rohirrim.
Maybe I'm being harsh, but just how much was left out, and the jumbled order, deeply disappointed me. I only hope that when the Extended Edition of Return of the King is released this entire 12+ hour symphony, in proper film order, follows it.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a letdown, December 14, 2003
By 
Christopher R. VandenHeuvel (Hudsonville, MI United States) - See all my reviews
First of all, I am a devoted fan of Shore's work on the LOTR trilogy. I play these in my car all the time. I'm sure most of the people reading this can relate; so you might respond to this score the same way I did.
In my opinion, you can't really review a CD like this until you've listened to it 5 or 6 times. It's especially hard if you haven't seen the movie. When I first listened to this score, I actually thought it was quite boring! Now that I'm familiar with it, it's not as boring as I thought, but it still is a bit dull especially when compared to the Two Towers score. I would say it is my least favorite of the three.
The problem is that nothing really happens! It's hard to relate to it because most of the thematic material is gone (the Fellowship theme is under-represented, the Frodo/Sam theme appears a bit at the end, the Rohan theme appears one time quite weakly, and Saruman's is gone). We do hear the Gondor theme quite a bit, thankfully. But with so much missing, you need the track list to have any idea what's going on.
It does have its strong points. The best part is probably the Mount Doom section, which features a haunting solo by Ms. Fleming, sandwiched by explosive choral sections. The cameos by Pippin and Aragorn are great. And it's neat to hear some more Shire stuff at the end.
Annie Lennox's song is OK ... it's a nice tune, but I don't really care for her voice and the lyrics are just a bit fluffy. It's not as good as the other two vocal songs. The part after the credits is a huge letdown. It should have been triumphant, but there's just nothing memorable in it.
All three scores have been surprising and unique, and this one is no different. I'm sure it suits the movie perfectly, but taking the disc on its own merits, I just can't help but think it could have been better.
A note on the DVD: I really think New Line has dropped the ball here in that across all the DVDs they have released, they don't give Shore enough time to explain why he wrote the music the way he did. This disc had huge potential for that, but all it really is is 25 minutes or so of behind the scenes. You'll get to see what it's like to compose and record music, but unfortunately we don't get inside Shore's head nearly enough. One final thing--the DVD shows a choir recording an powerful vocal version of the Fellowship theme. Why on earth isn't this on the CD?
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stupendous ending to a classic music trilogy, December 8, 2003
This review is from: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Audio CD)
I STRONGLY recommend sitting down, by yourself, with a copy of Tolkien's novel, and then listening to this soundtrack in full. I had some pretty high hopes for this soundtrack, and this music exceeds them.
Some of my favourites include -
Track 1 - A Storm is Coming
A surprisingly upbeat and whimsical introduction to the film. Compared to the previous openings (especially the fantastic 'Foundations of Stone' from The Two Towers), it sounds surprisingly subdued. Still, it's an enjoyable listen, and does provide excellent musical accompaniment to seeing Smeagol sans' makeup.
Track 10 - Anduril
Finally, after three years of impatiently waiting, we at last see the forging of Anduril - the Sword of the West! And it's about time!!! Howard Shore makes sure that the payoff here is absolutely huge, with a liberal (and beautiful) use of choral arrangements, and the elven themes from both Rivendell and Lothlorien (just to emphasis exactly who is reforging the Sword of the West).
Track 11 - Shelob
This track sounds like it belongs more to an Aliens film than an epic fantasy - it is, however, mildly scary (at least to my ears). Howard Shore has often composed music for David Cronenberg (a famous horror film director), so it should be no surprise that he knows how to scare the pants of film audiences. After hearing this music, so goodness only knows what Shelob will actually look like. And I hate spiders!
Track 15 - The Black Gate Opens
Despite its bleak title, this is a surprisingly hopeful and optimistic tune. There are a few welcome reprises of tunes from FOTR and TTT, including the Fellowship tune, Hobbiton, and the 'Into the West'.
Track 16 - The End of All Things.
It's interesting to note that both 'The Matrix Revolutions' and `Return of the King' use choir music to great effect. I really enjoyed Don Davis excellent work on the Matrix soundtracks. The films may not have lived up to all my expectations, but the music definitely did.
Track 17 - Return of the King
It's 10 minutes of pure Howard Shore LOTR music - which is always a major plus in my book. It's the most uplifting and optimistic track in the entire album, and it has Viggo Mortensen in it singing vocals - which really knocked me for a loop! Not to mention an excellent reprise of the Fellowship and Hobbiton themes from FOTR. Oh, and did I mention that James Galway gets to play a solo on flute? At the moment, my number one favourite track from all three films. Mostly because I've been waiting for this emotional payoff for the last three years. Excellent, outstanding stuff!
Track 18 - The Grey Havens & Track 19 - Into the West
I know you have mixed feelings about the last track (sung by Annie Lennox). I'm really pleased with it - it reflects exactly how the reader should feel at the end of ROTK. There's a sense of elation, but also a deep sense of sadness when we realise that Frodo and Bilbo are taking the Grey Ships "beyond the circles of the world". The tunes used here are a radical departure from what we've heard before. There's a sense that the slate has been wiped clean, of new beginnings.
This is a stupendous soundtrack - required listening regardless of whether you enjoy the films or not. I wish I could've been part of the orchestra recording this wonderful music - being there for that would've been the experience of a lifetime!
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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King by Howard Shore (Audio CD - 2003)
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