Lord of the Rings: At Dawn in Rivendell
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Audio CD, Soundtrack, March 11, 2003
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Given the massive, worldwide success of director Peter Jackson's adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings stories, it's hardly surprising that a Ring-inspired marketing boom has taken hold. But this powerful collection has deeper roots, the third volume by composers Caspar Reiff and Peter Hall and their Tolkien Ensemble, an ambitious effort to bring Tolkien's Ring Poems to musical life. This third volume of their work covers a range of Elven hymns, love songs, and Hobbit drinking chanteys, with Reiff and Hall conjuring up a musical world that's as wondrous and foreboding as its literary inspirations. The marvelously sepulcher voice of British horror film legend Christopher Lee (the films' Saruman) add an ominous edge to the poetry excerpts. Set against the composers' brooding orchestral backdrops, Lee's performances are riveting and often chilling. Fellow Tolkien enthusiast Queen Margrethe II of Denmark informs the rich musical collection with some equally evocative illustrations for the album's cover and lyric pages. --Jerry McCulley
Top Customer Reviews
First, it was prepared before the movies, and I feel cheated that none of it could be included in the cinema soundtrack. The movies really do short Tolkien's poetry and verse, while this sound recording provides an excellent interpretation of music produced by men, hobbits, the Onodrim, and the Eldar. Above all, I really love the interpretation of "A Elbereth Gilthoniel."
So... GET THIS ALBUM! It will entirely reward those who want to lose some time in Middle Earth!
The only down side? Christopher Lee. Yes, he is a great actor, and played Saron to perfection. However, he seemed to be working out his anger from not getting into the third movie during the recording of this CD. All of his readings had a very hard, angry edge to them that actually made them unplesent. As a quick example he spoke the riddle of Strider as he would a curse instead of the promise which it is. I do not want to insult him or attack him, I just think he didn't put his best into what he was doing and I think that the Tolking Ensamble was to enamored with haveing such a great actor to work with.
Now to return to the praise this CD deserves, I am waiting impatiently for the fourth CD (though I think there will be more then that). I love the songs on this CD and suggest you get the first two as well! (evening at Rivendell and Night at Rivendell) What I plan on doing is taking all three CDs and making my own compilations from them, (keeping it legal of course). Get this CD and when you need a boost of energy program your CD player to play those four hobit songs and befor you get through one set you will be belting out the songs with the CD!
The Tolkien Ensemble's first album "An Evening In Rivendell" counts as the pivotal body of music in my - none too exhaustive - Tolkien-music collection. I rank it higher than any Howard Shore film-soundtrack, "which is sayin' a lot." I hold this album in very high regard as well, yet on slightly different grounds.
The first album reached its height by force of composition: the music and songs alone sufficed. By now... they have resorted to trickeries. If this sounds demeaning, it isn't meant as such: the compositions are still top-notch. But bringing in Lee is - besides wonderful and splendid - a miracle of a publicity stunt. Lee sings well, and "Treebeard's Song" is my favourite song of the album. There are also reprises of earlier records, which isn't entirely creative, but presenting "The Old Walking Song" from the first album as a hidden bonus track humours me deeply.
As said, overall, the album simply doesn't jump as high and far as the earlier albums. Perhaps they have already spent their most inspiring poems, or they are running low on them. Look at it from that angle, and Lee serves to mask these shortcomings. "There's an eye-opener and no mistake!" Surely not! Not the Tolkien Ensemble!
Nevertheless, this album gets four stars. Why? Well, despite my somewhat negative tone, these people are still making the absolute essential Tolkien-music in the field. Just make sure you buy the former two albums for comparison. I eagerly await a fourth.