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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2003 Regular

2003 Limited

2003 Limited Internet

2003 Trilogy

2007 Complete

2010 Rarities Archive

Composed, Orchestrated, Conducted, and Produced by:
Howard Shore

Vocals Produced by:
Paul Broucek

Performed by:
The London Philharmonic Orchestra

The London Voices

The London Oratory School Schola

Solo Vocals by:
Annie Lennox
Renée Fleming
Sir James Galway
Ben del Maestro
Billy Boyd
Viggo Mortensen

Choral Text by:
J.R.R. Tolkien
Philippa Boyens
Fran Walsh

Labels and Dates:
Reprise Records
(November 25th, 2003)

Reprise Records
(Limited, Internet, and Trilogy)
(December 9th, 2003)

Reprise Records
(Complete Set)
(November 20th, 2007)

Howe Records
(Rarities Archive)
(October 5th, 2010)

Also See:
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Audio Clips:
2003 Original Album:

8. Twilight and Shadow (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

15. The Black Gate Opens (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

16. The End of All Things (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

19. Into the West (0:32):
WMA (209K)  MP3 (258K)
Real Audio (160K)

2007 Complete Set:

CD3, 7. Dernhelm in Battle (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

CD3, 16. For Frodo (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

CD4, 3. The Eagles (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

CD4, 6. Elanor (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

The regular 2003 album originally priced between $14 to $16 in the stores is the regular U.S. release. The 2003 limited release is indicated by a higher price ($25), dark green cover, and typically a sticker indicating its "limited" nature on the front plastic. The 2003 Internet-only release was available through the label's website and has a dark red cover and even higher price ($30). The musical contents are the same on all products.

The 2003 trilogy set is essentially the original three albums from the films combined into one package (with no extra music). The value of the different cover inserts (on the trading block) is yet to be determined. They could very well end up useless unless you acquire a whole set of 5 covers.

The 2007 set includes the complete recordings, priced initially for between $55 and $65, and features the double-sided DVD with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound along with four CDs that offer 230 minutes from the score in 16-bit stereo sound. Other higher resolution variants on sound quality exist on the DVD (see review for details).

The 2010 Howe Records album called "The Rarities Archive" was only available in the back cover of the Doug Adams book The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore's Scores. That book had an MSRP of $60 but initially sold new for under $40.

  The song "Into the West" won a Golden Globe, a Grammy Award, and an Academy Award. The score won the same three awards and was nominated for a BAFTA Award.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

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Buy it... on the 2007 complete set if you seek one of the best scores of the digital age of film music in a DVD-quality presentation that will, if you are properly equipped, stun both you and the people living down the street.

Avoid it... on the 2007 complete set if you do not use a surround sound system for your regular listening enjoyment and would prefer, in terms of content, the 72-minute 2003 album of highlights from the score.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: (Howard Shore) Destined to be one of the most successful trilogies of films in the history of cinema, The Lord of the Rings finished its snapshot succession of yearly sequels with its final chapter, The Return of the King, in 2003. The film piled on monumental grosses worldwide and overwhelmed the Academy Awards just a few months later with one of the best showings by a single film in history. The frenzied buzz surrounding the films, even in a mainstream population not usually attracted to the fantasy genre, had defeated strong competition from both the Harry Potter and The Matrix franchises. Even hardcore fans of J.R.R. Tolkien and his novels could have had a difficult time keeping up with all of the merchandise from the trilogy, including the different cuts of the films themselves, which, like the previous two entries, were promised with The Return of the King. Composer Howard Shore had entered this situation many years prior, knowing full well that his involvement in this trilogy would extend far beyond the basic duties of a composer on any normal project. Shore seemed well adjusted to the idea of scoring The Lord of the Rings in bits and pieces, writing new cues to the scores as additional scenes were added to the films; he worked closely with director Peter Jackson under a rambling schedule of additional recording sessions appended to the scores for the films long after the meat of the originals was already heard in theatres. In the case of The Return of the King, Shore recorded the score late in the summer of 2003 but was prepared to write and record additional material for the production in March of 2004 to accommodate additional scenes on the DVD release of the film. Over the course of Shore's adventures, from the original viewing of the shooting locations in New Zealand in 2000 to the last DVD release in 2004, Shore wrote music with large-scale talents of the London Philharmonic and London Voices in mind, not to mention his hand-chosen selection of instrumental and vocal soloists to accentuate certain concepts along the way with specific tones. Careful planning led to a score for The Return of the King that merged countless fragments of ideas hinted at in the previous two scores with the maturation of old favorites, requiring more patience and attention to detail than its predecessors.

With the music for The Return of the King, however, came a higher level of discontent from some listeners, many of whom pointing to aspects of the third score's production that reduced its status compared to The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Criticism about the previous two recordings had come from audiophiles who were unhappy with the echoing, wet recording sound of the final mix of the orchestra and voices; individual instrumental performances were washed out to make way for a resounding whole, arguably improving the sheer mass of sound in some sections while also degrading solo contributions by lesser-powered elements. For The Return of the King, the same bass-heavy, echoing sound was utilized, though to perhaps a slightly lesser extent. Additionally, hardcore fans of the franchise noticed that with this final entry, more of Shore's score was either cut from the final version of the film or altered with an additional take in performance. Many of the score's most prominent cues in the film did not match the versions heard on the original soundtrack albums of 2003. Pieces of Shore's most intriguing and thoughtful cues were often dropped by Jackson or moved into places Shore had not intended them to be. Some took aim at the voice of Annie Lennox and the style and instrumental backing of her song. Finally, with the situation in Middle-earth in near chaos for much of this story, Shore's music refrains from the kind of singular statements of theme heard in the first two scores, instead developing them as necessary to represent their maturation and destinies. Such meticulous devotion to thematic integration and manipulation is a great study for keenly aware musical minds, but in terms of basic satisfaction in and apart from the film, Shore's final score doesn't shine with quite as clearly delineated ideas. The album presentation also, aside from the obvious existence of different versions of several cues, was forced to condense a much longer score (30 to 40 minutes longer than the previous entries) into a 72-minute presentation, casting aside not only the film edits and relying on Shore's earlier recordings in the process, but not providing anything close to complete picture of the score. All of these concerns carry some legitimacy, though The Return of the King also suffered the disadvantage of aiming to satisfy unrealistic expectations for most fans, a circumstance that has waned over the years.

The epic scale of the first two scores was obviously continued in the final chapter, completing Shore and Jackson's notions that the music was meant to be one massive, single score that had simply been divided into three parts. With The Return of the King, however, a case could be made that this third score in the trilogy has far less in common with its two predecessors than they had with each other. The Academy Award-winning score for The Fellowship of the Ring was naturally expanded upon in The Two Towers, with the second score clearly restating motifs and themes from the first one while establishing its own new ideas for Rohan, among others. This process does not carry over into The Return of the King; rather, since the third film's tumultuous events necessitate the awkward, fragmented merging of many of the themes into less obvious constructs, you hear the same stylistic motifs and chord progressions of the series without the satisfyingly steady statements of previous themes. Rhythms from one theme are combined with thematic progressions from another, and themes overlap each other to form almost dissonant mosaics. The themes commonly considered the identity of the previous scores merge with others to create new ideas for the next age of Middle-earth, thus short-changing their original incarnations. You hear many hints, adaptations, and faint echoes of the previously established ideas, but the consistency in The Return of the King is executed through the use of the same instruments, vocals, and, as mentioned before, basic and common motifs and chord progressions shared by many of the themes. This technique proved to be potentially disheartening for listeners who enjoyed the bold new theme for Rohan in The Two Towers and the concurrent, major statements of the first film's themes as well. Shore does offer major new themes for two concepts in The Return of the King, though their relative infrequency in performance diminishes their attempts to define the new score. The realm of Gondor receives a theme that is often inverted or otherwise manipulated to represent its fight, and a sub-theme for Minas Tirith manages to steal the show with its few monumental performances. A final theme for Grey Havens, translated into the Annie Lennox song, arrives too late to truly take the helm of the score.

All three of these major new themes for The Return of the King existed in faint hints in previous entries, though nearly any listener to the scores in 2001 and 2002 could not have known the extent to which Howard would apply these ideas in the last film. The Gondor fanfare was the most often heard before, developing into its final trumpet variation in The Two Towers. Its progressions are often intentionally manipulated by Shore to represent the peril of the culture as the armies of Mordor approach, though this theme still receives the most frequent applications of bombast as any in the score. The specific idea for the city of Minas Tirith is a superior idea that moves at an accelerated, almost Western-like rhythm as Gandalf rides up its heights and, most memorably, gloriously accompanies the beacon lighting sequence. By necessity, of course, this theme is not heard for much of the second half of the film. The Grey Havens theme makes its first and surprisingly stunning appearance in full at the end of "The Mouth of Sauron," as Sam physically carries Frodo to his destiny; it's arguably the turning point of the score, heralding the beginning of the end of the tale. The theme then occupies significant time in the departure scene before closing out the score in the end credits. While technically the Gondor theme is meant to be the heart of The Return of the King, it's hard not to be lured back to the Minas Tirith theme, despite its lesser role. This lack of clear dominance by one new theme in the score is indeed one of the aforementioned weaknesses of the work from a listenability standpoint, though one that Shore likely could (and should) have done nothing about. Almost all of the significant themes from previous scores do return, despite their transformations. Among the most adapted elements in The Return of the King are those for the Shire and the hobbits. The four main themes are tortured throughout much of the score but receive their salvation in the epilogue sequence following Sam and Frodo's rescue by the eagles. For the most part, Shore returns to the original spirit of these themes, and even conjures a new one for Sam's future. The lovely whistle and flute performances have lost some of their gleaming shine, but they do exist. Most interesting, though, is Shore's tragic manipulations of the concepts for the prologue involving Smeagol and his first encounter with the ring.

The primary, horn-driven fellowship theme, representing the entire trilogy and swinging in style and noble intent, is referenced frequently enough in The Return of the King, maintaining its overarching status and always following the remainder of the original fellowship (the three hunters). It develops into a surprisingly massive choral rendition over the film's final battle sequence. The most intellectually stimulating developments in The Return of the King involve the eventual blending of the three themes for the ring itself, though Shore does continue to allow the ring's history theme to open the film and guide the narrative while marking the continuing peril for the hobbits on their journey to Mount Doom. The concepts for Mordor have overwhelmed the clearly separate music (originally) for Isengard and the Orcs, though they do cannibalize from each other to such an extent that some casual listeners may not notice the difference. The domination of Gollum over Smeagol in the waning moments of the tale cause the character's pity theme to become only faintly referenced, replaced by Gollum's menace theme and an even closer tie to the ring's three themes as he comes closer to achieving his goal. To hear no substantial use of Gollum's chilling song from The Two Towers remains puzzling, especially with that character's integral role in the resolution of the tale. As was apparent by this point, the melodies of the songs heard over the end credits of the three films were not intended for use in the other chapters of the trilogy. To say that this lack of crossover isn't disappointing in the case of "Gollum's Song" would be a lie, because of the three song melodies, that is really the only one that could have been applied accurately to all three stories. There was some initial disappointment about the diminished role for the Rohan fanfare and Eowyn's sub-themes, though their themes have little to accomplish after the conclusion of the battle at Minas Tirith. In an interesting move, the Rohan material, after its few full statements after their peoples' return to Edoras, combines with the nature's reclamation theme later in the film. One of the most significantly missed opportunities by Shore in the trilogy is the substandard theme for the Army of the Dead, failing to thematically or instrumentally create a truly memorable identity for them.

On the whole, the massive weight of the music for The Return of the King, with the absence of as many magnificent, harmonious thematic placements, falls on the quality of the straight battle sequences and haunting moments of mystical underscore. Here, Shore continues to impress. The tonal, rhythmically pleasing action music, pulsating with full orchestra and chorus to the strong beating of creative percussion, may not be as strong in a cue to cue comparison with the Helm's Deep material from The Two Towers, but it still eclipses nearly anything written in the recent history of film music. Some of the action pieces were forcefully combined on the first commercial albums for The Return of the King, causing some awkward cuts and fades (there are sudden shifts from orchestra to solo vocal in "The End of All Things" and "Minas Tirith" that are a tad abrupt due to the assembly of the product). As with the previous scores, the harmony of these huge cues is occasionally lost, especially with the Mordor, Orc, Ringwraith, and new Witch King material adopting increasingly brutal tones in the film's latter half. The intimate parts of The Return of the King may not raise the hair on your arms like similar cues in The Two Towers, but the flute performances by Sir James Galway and others are nevertheless gorgeous. The use of pan flutes to entail Faramir's sense of doom and gloom for Gondor under Denethor's rule is very memorable. For listeners who attach themselves to the extended sequences of softer material, The Return of the King concludes with over half an hour of music that is pleasantly harmonic in every second, including the most noble variants of the Shire music to be heard in the trilogy. The fact that the film rambles on for far too long in these closing scenes actually works to the benefit of the score; Sam's final epilogic scene, for instance, offers a new hobbit theme that ends on a remarkably beautiful descending progression that definitively closes the book on the story. Also for your compilations, consider the opening few minutes of the score; the way Shore reverts his music back to an earlier century and throws in extremely faint hints of Mordor and Smeagol's pity theme are remarkable, and the use of a singular, creaky old violin to depict the origins of the ring's history theme is brilliant.

The Annie Lennox song, "Into the West," is a well-written piece with decent lyrics. The songs have gone from a new-age affect (with Enya) and a dark-musical effect (Gollum) to finally a very light pop-effect set by faint guitars for this entry. The orchestral backing of the song isn't as impressive as hoped, with some brass counterpoint halfway through as the only substantial accompaniment. Lennox's voice works well in her lower ranges, but is perhaps too harsh and contemporary for the upper ones. It may have been more effective had someone with a softer, fairy-tale whisper of tone, such as Natalie Merchant, or one with operatic grace, such as Sissel, had performed this finale. Overall, the Lennox performance caps off a score with spectacular orchestral and vocal recordings, and yet that same Lennox tone of voice represents a larger feeling of displacement in the score. Not even the half hour of resolution can compensate for this intangible problem. As a stand-alone score, The Return of the King has always been a superb effort, but when you pull back and compare it to Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, you can't help but feel unsatisfied by the lack of distinct highlights that made the previous two entries so consistently attractive. Those highlights are less frequent in The Return of the King, and for the sake of listeners interested in a quick summary of the cues, the following analysis will assist in illuminating these parts. The following track titles refer to those found on the superior, complete score offering of The Return of the King in 2007, and, more specifically, the set's 24-bit DVD presentation. The opening "Roots and Beginnings," as mentioned already, offers the genesis of the ring's themes and is frightfully tragic in its gracious, humble beginning and terrifying conclusion. The ring's history theme continues to haunt "Journey to the Crossroads," with the hobbits' primary pensive theme struggling to assert itself on woodwinds. Another cue of little consequence is the conversational "The Road to Isengard," which explores a slightly more upbeat variation on the hobbits' material for Merry and Pippin, as well as few fellowship theme statements. The music of Isengard dies with resounding bass region resilience in "The Foot of Orthanc," a tense, but satisfying and melodramatic cue.

The Hardanger fiddle's conveyance of the glory of Rohan is resurrected briefly in "Return to Edoras," while Eowyn's material is delicately explored in the subdued "The Chalice Passed" before the source singing of "The Green Dragon" abruptly interrupts with a burst of obnoxious hobbit enthusiasm. The familiar tones of the cimbalom performing Gollum's menace theme open a harrowing tone that continues the battle between this idea, the creature's pity theme, and those of the ring. Shore goes back to the Eowyn music in the brief and uneventful "Eowyn's Dream." For Pippin's terrifying vision sequence, Shore tumbles through extremely metallic and grating Mordor variants and mutations of the ring's themes. After a slow start, the pace of the score picks up finally in "Flight from Edoras," concluded by resolute performances of the Gandalf the White and fellowship themes. The first truly stunning cue in the score, and a must-have on any compilation from the work, is "The Grace of Undomiel," which opens with a gorgeous, lower-pitched voice performing the Elves' Evenstar theme. The transferring of this theme to the orchestra represents a shift for Arwen and her mortality, and the ensemble takes up the theme in conjunction with a mechanical brass performance of the Minas Tirith theme as the sword of the King of Gondor is reshaped. The Gondor theme, in two different inversions, follows with galloping urgency, and this is one of the theme's two grand performances in the score that are not to be missed. The Minas Tirith theme whimpers by comparison as Gandalf and Pippin prepare to meet with Denethor. A battle within the brass section to regain the heroism of the Gondor theme is a highlight in the second half of "The Eyes of the White Tower." Fragments of the hobbit and Gondor themes struggle in "A Coronet of Silver and Gold" until the combined force of the Mordor, Isengard, Orc, and ring's evil themes explodes as Sam, Frodo, and Gollum come upon Minas Morgul. The choral and brass tones of this relentless evil is more difficult to grasp than the original mutation of the same idea in "The Caves of Isengard" in the first score; the tone is more dissonant, shrieking, and horrifying here, making for a difficult listening experience. The cue does earn some of the score's best style points in terms of potentially awakening an entire city block of your neighbors in the middle of the night.

Undoubtedly, the second half of "The Lighting of the Beacons," as with "The Grace of Undomiel," is a necessary piece for compilations. As Pippin lights the fire of the beacon at Minas Tirith, Shore unleashes an orchestral crescendo of unparalleled heroism that culminates in the score's most prominent use of the Gondor theme. The response by Rohan prompts the score's most buoyant performance of that theme late in the same cue, though shortly it has merged with the nature's reclamation theme to form a remarkable pairing. The lengthy battle music of "Osgilliath Invaded" does not compete favorably with the material from the previous two scores, despite some ballsy low brass for the Nazgul and a boy soprano performance of the Gandalf the White theme at the end. The suspense of "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol" and lament of "Allegiance to Denethor" would be unremarkable if not for the brief and solemn pan flute performances in the latter. These performances extend into "The Sacrifice of Faramir," though the source singing in this piece intrudes into the growing panic of the remainder of the cue. The cimbalom once again announces Gollum's menace theme in "The Parting of Sam and Frodo" and the confrontation is served the expected pieces of ring themes before closing with soft sadness in the Shire material for Sam. Forceful Rohan theme performances, alternating on brass and fiddle, are the only highlight of "Marshalling at Dunharrow." The same combination of Rivendell and Minas Tirith material heard in Arwen's fateful scene earlier returns with greater strength in "Anduril - Flame of the West." Hints of the fellowship, Rohan, and Eowyn themes tangle without resolve in "The Passing of the Grey Company," and the deep male voices of the Army of the Dead add depth to "Dwimorberg - The Haunted Mountain," though the cue is otherwise not as foreboding as it could have been. The short "Master Meriadoc, Swordthain" concludes with a pulsating brass tribute to Rohan that offers the first excitement in quite a while. Unfortunately, the dull and dissonant tones for the dead army in "The Paths of the Dead" breaks the mood. "The Siege of Gondor" attempts to repeat the glory of The Two Towers action material, though without the same harmonious gravity, the cue is a disappointment. While the tone of the extremely harsh brass is appropriate, there is little cohesiveness to grasp onto in the listening experience.

That same disappointment extends to the material involving Shelob the spider in both "Shelob's Lair" and "Shelob the Great," marking a large hole in the appeal of the album's middle portion (despite Shore's creative nod to the eight-legged beast by representing her with an eight-note theme). In between the two scenes of Frodo's encounters with Shelob, "Merry's Simple Courage" and "Grond - The Hammer of the Underworld" do little to pull the score out of its lapse. A choral confluence of the ring's history and evil themes accompanies the madness of Denethor in "The Tomb of the Stewards," though once again there is little in the cue to recall. Shore finally summons the cohesiveness of the action material from the previous film in "The Battle of the Pelennor Fields," when the Rohan theme formally yields to the nature's reclamation theme as they arrive for the fight; the Hardanger and brass form a strong duet for the initial clash of Rohirrim and Orcs. Following the fiery demise of Denethor in "The Pyre of Denethor," the score returns to the battle with glorious choral layers of harmony, and after the singular and unimpressive "The Mumakil," Shore launches into a rhythmic burst of energy at the start of "Dernhelm in Battle" that deserves repeat enjoyment. A respite from the action is provided in "A Far Green Country," which softly foreshadows the Grey Havens theme for the first time in this score. The battle at Minas Tirith comes to a climax in "Shieldmaiden of Rohan," a piece that, while featuring some of the treacherous brass tones of Mordor, transforms into a heroic piece representing some of the most attractive action music in The Return of the King. The material for Eowyn and the next age receive compelling treatment in "The Passing of Theoden," and choir graces both this and "The Houses of Healing" with a breath of fresh air after all the dense, less harmonious material heard in the previous half hour. Aside from the transformation of the hobbit material into a heroic fanfare in its mid-section, the action of "The Tower of Cirith Ungol" is again somewhat anonymous in the larger canvas. As the decision to march to the Black Gate is made in "The Last Debate," Shore combines phrases of the Gondor and Rohan themes to create a new identity for the world of men. Soft woodwinds and Sissel's always incredible voice finish the cue on a contemplative note.

The final, darkest chapter of the journey in The Return of the King begins with the ultra low-register performances of the Mordor and Orc material in "The Land of Shadow," though the latter half of the cue is surprisingly subdued given the gravity of what is about the happen; it plays like the calm before a storm. The same ominous pauses apply to the start of "The Mouth of Sauron," with only Aragorn's heroics leading a rhythmic charge that stirs life into the ensemble. Lines of the Gondor and fellowship themes accompany the attempts to distract Sauron's eye while solo whistle helps drive the hobbits on the final leg of their journey. With a slow choral crescendo meant to represent Sam's loyalty to Frodo, Shore unleashes the score's only heroic performance of the Grey Havens theme, passed between brass members with resolve. Both this cue and "For Frodo" are necessary inclusions in any compilation of music from The Return of the King, for the latter cue contains a massively religious, choral rendition of the fellowship theme that announces the battle at the Black Gate. The appearance of the eagles is greeted with a short performance of the nature's reclamation theme as well. Tension in dissonant string layers defines the beginning of "Mount Doom," and as Frodo finally succumbs to the ring, Shore overlaps all of the ring themes into one dizzying frenzy. The monumental Mount Doom theme explodes in full ensemble and chorus when this happens, extending for several minutes as Gollum returns to the equation. As the creature succeeds in finally reacquiring his precious ring, a solo voice gives the ring one last, elegant chance at survival. As Gollum is pitched over the edge, the Mount Doom chant is given one last burst. The strongly harmonic theme of victory (for the destruction of the ring) in "The Crack of Doom" is another highlight of the score, ushering in Shore's most noble statements of fourth-age themes over several minutes as Mordor and his armies are destroyed. The cue closes with a mournful return to the beautiful Gandalf's Farewells theme as the wizard worries about the fate of the hobbits, though even at this moment of hope, the ring's history theme makes one last appearance on violins as counterpoint. The subsequent "The Eagles" is an extension of the Gandalf's Farewells theme, resulting in a solo vocal performance that will indeed send chills up your spine.

And thus begins the long suite of epilogue music in The Return of the King. The score's major positive themes are all explored in redemptive fashion in "The Fellowship Reunited," offering lengthy resolution to the hobbit and fellowship themes in what is easily the most appealing cue (in terms of easy harmony) in the score. Viggo Mortensen's capable, though mumbled vocal performance in this scene is perhaps the most memorable of the similar source-like songs throughout the three films. Fans of the early Shire music are even treated to late performances of the rural and hymn settings of the theme. The Shire themes become solemn in "The Journey to the Grey Havens" as the Gandalf's Farewells theme and Grey Havens themes mark the end of the saga. Once again, the unfortunate fact that the film runs far too long in these sequences is to the benefit of the score, which extends the pretty and undemanding music of these sequences to almost half an hour in length. A new hobbit theme, one for the hopeful future of Sam and the Shire, is heard in the brief "Elanor," concluding the score as innocently and graciously as Shore possibly could accomplish. The "Days of the Ring" suite of end credits music exists in a curious arrangement. After a very subtle tribute to the world of men at the start, the Lennox song follows. Thereafter, the suite shifts between hobbit and Elf music with poorly edited shifts that betray the fact that the music was assembled after the recordings. Interestingly, instead of closing the score with one last burst of the fellowship theme (the franchise's primary identity), Shore chose to finish with a minute of tribute to Richard Wagner's concluding opera from "Der Ring des Nibelungen." This thoughtful extension of the style of "Gotterdammerung" perhaps addresses the early thoughts that Shore's music for this franchise would be heavily inspired, in opera form, by Wagner's famous work for another ring-related tale. Shore refuted those expectations early, which is why the tribute heard here is somewhat curious. The complete set for The Return of the King ends with the light choral rendition of "Bilbo's Song," a piece that was recorded for the extended DVD version of the film and appended to its end credits. It's a pretty song, certainly, but not worth much excitement.

Before the complete was released in 2007, however, Reprise Records had reached one last time into the barrel of commercial gimmicks in their initial offerings of the music from The Return of the King. Instead of reading another rant here again about Reprise and Warner's commercial butchering of these 2003 album releases, you'd be better served by going back and reading the rant about the albums for The Two Towers in that score's Filmtracks review. The same exact situation applies to The Return of the King, with Reprise and Warner continuing every creative way to suck hard-earned money from the wallets of fools. Their routine with buddy icons, trading cards, different covers, leathery packaging, limited editions, and other nonsense is especially egregious in the case of The Return of the King because none of the so-called "limited" albums included the most important thing: extra music. And certainly there was a lot of music missing from the regular release. In situations like these, until these greedy corporate executives figure out that the music is the actual reason for these albums to exist, there's no reason to purchase anything more than the base, regular product in a standard jewel case. If you've ruled out the purchasing of the complete sets, though, there is definitely an order in which you should seek the three scores. In the condensed, highlight format of their edited presentations, The Two Towers remains the strongest 70-minute product, followed by The Fellowship of the Ring and then The Return of the King. The equation changed slightly, when the three scores were provided their complete editions on multi-CD sets between 2005 and 2007, in which case you should investigate the scores in their chronological order, for despite the fact that The Return of the King's commercial product neglected the most music in terms of length, that additional material is not as strong as what you gain on the sets for The Two Towers and especially The Fellowship of the Ring. The complete presentation of The Return of the King contains so many disappointing holes in its early and middle portions that it's noticeably weaker compared to the other two sets.

Discussion of the 2007 Complete Set:

In a general sense, though, it would be difficult to provide better treatment of any trilogy of scores than what Reprise and Warner have accomplished with the box sets of complete recordings for these The Lord of the Rings films. It is so rare that film music is both so good and so well treated that you can unequivocally recommend a set that could set you back $60. But these products are all stunning and spectacular, regardless of whatever technical weaknesses they may harbor for some, and they help to compensate for the bad taste left by the ridiculously commercialized crap that Reprise originally offered with each of the films' releases. These sets were extraordinarily expensive to produce, but strong sales made them profitable for the label, hopefully encouraging other labels in the future to treat similarly popular film score music in such fashion. Additionally, kudos have to be given to the label and its producers for offering them within just four years of each score's original release; anyone who remembers the agony of the original Star Wars trilogy on album can testify that four years is a snappy turnaround. The set for The Return of the King specifically has all the same characteristics in presentation and packaging as the two that came before, but with the exception of a larger mass of music that required four CDs and a double-sided DVD. As such, a significant portion of the technical and background discussion that you'll read below in the remainder of this review will be very similar to related information provided in the Filmtracks reviews of The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. All three films in the trilogy experienced extended cuts from Jackson on DVD, and the original soundtrack albums, which contained significantly edited and rearranged snippets of score that often made little sense when compared to what was heard in the films, continued to suffer from inadequacy. While this editing of music for the single-CD albums was necessary to give fans what essentially amounted to a highlight album for each film, those presentations didn't have the luxury of choosing to include supplemental material that Shore wrote after the theatrical releases to accommodate Jackson's longer DVD versions.

While it's most commonly agreed that The Fellowship of the Ring was the most mistreated by its original album edit, The Return of the King suffered on its original commercial album because so many of the complexities in the integration of themes were simply edited out of that album, causing the score to sound a bit more simplistic than it actually is. There are alternate takes and small pieces of music that aren't included on these complete sets, but the remaining notable material from The Return of the King is, ironically, provided on its commercial album. Anyone listening to the Gondor theme performance for the famed beacon-lighting sequence in The Return of the King will have learned this by now. On the whole, however, listeners will be hard-pressed to find anything substantial missing from these "Complete Recordings" releases. In fact, the presentation of Shore's music on the three-CD sets for the first two scores was astonishingly loyal to the films, and ironically, as to be expected from fickle collectors, the majority of complaints relating to the music on the first two sets, while few, were related to the inclusion of music that some people would rather not have heard. With less source-like material on The Return of the King, these fans (who still need to get a life) will have far less to complain about. To its credit, the commercial album provided most of the beautiful resolution material heard late in the film, as well as the pivotal performances of the Gondor theme during Gandalf's arrival at Minas Tirith and the beacon lighting sequence. But this set, seemingly more than the others, corrects dissatisfaction with the versions heard in the film as opposed to those on album, usually in relation to variations of the Gondor theme itself. Several important cues were presented in alternate form on the first album, and fans were quick to notice. The most important of these is indeed "The Lighting of the Beacons," which has been restored to its film version on the set. Additionally, the version of the Hobbits' ascent up Mount Doom is restored in "The Mouth of Sauron" (as opposed to its rearrangement in "The Black Gate Opens" on the first album). The Grey Havens theme is given its proper introduction in "A Far Green Country," though this is another cue that is provided in an alternate take, as Shore would have originally preferred.

With so many last minute edits due to the involvement of Jackson at the recording sessions, the totality of the cues here have been included in their original form, so purists who want to hear only the music as presented in the film should be aware of this choice. The resolution cues "The Journey to Grey Havens" and "Days of the Ring" are problematic on this set, though, because it seems that these pieces have still been arranged to fit the film's original needs, leading to awkward transitions. People familiar with the earlier album presentations will be somewhat surprised and disappointed by these strikingly poor transitions. The lengthy and rewarding "The Fellowship Reunited" summary cue remains a highlight of the trilogy and is mostly unaltered here. Like the complete sets before this one, there are a handful of cues that debut on this product that specifically require the DVD audio presentation to appreciate in their full glory. Interestingly, most of these involve the softer conversational cues. Few of the action cues in The Return of the King can compete sonically (and compositionally, as already discussed) with those heard in The Two Towers, especially with Shore merging so many ideas into muddy ensemble soups that reflect the total chaos and desperation of the story's climax. In favor of the menacing material, though, you can't argue with the deliberate statements in the deep bass region that will shake the floors, such as in "The Foot of Orthanc." Each of the scores has a few bold ensemble pieces that allow the orchestra to pound away in harmonic majesty (outside of the major themes, that is) to the benefit of those equipped with the 5.1 equipment with which to enjoy them. The set for The Return of the King reveals two such moments of resounding power; at the outsets of "Marshalling at Dunharrow" and "Dernhelm in Battle," Shore and his crew nail the mix of orchestral sections with extremely satisfying results. The marvelous ambience of the latter cue has almost a swashbuckling style to it, rarely heard in the otherwise grim battle cues for the trilogy. The remaining highlights of the set all come from its more contemplative side, and most of these owe significantly to Shore's outstanding mixing of solo woodwinds. The pan flute for Faramir in "Allegiance to Denethor" and "The Sacrifice of Faramir," leading to the uniting of Gondor, is accessibly beautiful.

As expected, several cues of pure, enveloping, vocal beauty are also a selling point of the set's surround sound presentation. The performances by Sissel and particularly Renee Fleming need to be singled out as highlights of the score's sound mix. Fleming's contribution to the subtle but gorgeous "The Eagles" is an absolute must-have; the rescue cue was mixed so prominently in the film that the absence of the complete cue from the commercial album was a disgrace. Overall, though, aside from whatever small quibbles may exist with the choices that Shore made with the actual music, the structure of the complete set for The Return of the King, as with The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, has few flaws. Spread over four CDs instead of three, the presentation is chronological and, as previously mentioned, will cause a frequent listener of the single CDs to take some time getting accustomed to the rearrangement of the material back into original order. Once again, an all-new set of track names might make finding your favorite snippets of music difficult, especially if you're not significantly knowledgeable about the specific names and places of the storyline. While the mix of the choir with the orchestra was a concern of Shore's that was addressed to a certain extent in The Fellowship of the Ring and perhaps in The Two Towers as well, there seems little changed about the massive vocal mixing in The Return of the King. The flow of the set is enhanced by the fact that unlike The Fellowship of the Ring, the latter two scores feature very little non-Shore music, so there really is no obnoxious material to break up the actual Shore score (the exception, in this case, is the aforementioned source song performed by Merry and Pippin at Edoras in "The Green Dragon"). The transitions between the four CDs occur at more convenient places on the The Return of the King set than they did on the products for The Two Towers due to the luxury of having the additional CD space to work with. Aside from the 230 minutes of music available on the four regular audio CDs (an increase of a whopping 40+ minutes from the set for The Two Towers), the set comes with a DVD that features four different tracks of the same complete score.

Due to the quantity of music in The Return of the King, the DVD is double-sided, and one of the set's few weaknesses is that the writing around the inside label of the DVD doesn't clearly indicate which side you're about to listen to when you place it in your player (you'll have to get creative with your own identification process). Luckily, the second side has most of the essential highlights, so you may end up listening to the latter half of the score almost exclusively if you're a fan of the DVD's superior audio. Your DVD player or the software on your computer, as well as their ability to function with the copy protection of the DVD, will determine which of the four tracks you can enjoy most readily. From a technical standpoint, the four tracks are divided into two DVD-audio and two Dolby Digital presentations. The Dolby Digital options include a 2.0 encoding at 224 Kbps, offering a decent surround experience, and the 5.1 encoding at 448 Kbps, which will be a vast improvement for the majority of basic surround sound listeners. Audiophiles, however, will go straight to the DVD-audio options, which include "Advanced Resolution Stereo Sound" and "Advanced Resolution Surround Sound," both of which feature 48 kHz, 24-bit encoding. This sampling rate may not seem much better than that of the regular CDs, but the 8-bit increase to 24-bit overall will provide a noticeable difference for non-Dolby listeners. The "Advanced Resolution Surround Sound" DVD-audio presentation is the glorious triumph of the set. If you have the six-speaker setup and playing capability to truly take advantage of the Dolby Digital 5.1 or DVD-audio tracks on these DVDs, then beware the consequences! Once you hear Shore's score in this full surround sound (which is essentially not any different from its clarity and scope in the film itself), it'll take you a while to get used to hearing the plain old, flat 16-bit stereo recordings on the regular CDs. The same could be said about any dynamic orchestral recording, but in the case of these three scores, it's really difficult to revert to the lesser sound quality. Many of the borderline problematic mixing issues on the stereo CDs are solved by the 5.1 spread, and combined with an outstanding source recording, the listening experience on the DVD is simply mind-blowing.

With the success of the previous sets, and the equally impressive presentation of this one, we can continue to hope that the entire industry is headed in this technological direction, despite the expensive consequence of forcing us to rotate out our old collections for 5.1+ surround editions. Through the years of their release, though, some fans complained about the DVDs in these sets despite their spectacular presentation for those properly equipped. Some of these complaints are legitimate and some aren't. People who attack these sets simply because of the ill-fated rubber knob that keeps the DVD in place, a flaw that persists on all three sets (and on the set for The Return of the King, the DVD took a chunk of the knob off with it when it was extracted for this review!), need some perspective. Additionally, those who claim that that the DVD unfairly pushed the price of the set to its supposedly "unreasonable" $60+ are likely lacking the capability to readily play and enjoy it. Simply put, if you hear the 5.1 mix on the DVD and could listen to it all day long, the DVD would be the first reason to buy the set. On the other hand, of more legitimate controversy has been the restrictive prohibition of certain features on the product that have plagued some listeners. Depending on your equipment and software, scanning within a track may not be allowed, and unless this prohibition relates to the copy-protection features (and even there, it's questionable), there's no good reason for the restriction. Both The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King have some lengthy tracks, forcing you to wade through obnoxious parts of the scores to reveal portions of their beauty. Some computer players, a tricky prospect for any DVD like this in the mid-2000's, especially with 5.1 sound cards and digital output jacks not readily available on non-Macs, will allow you to override the prohibitive limits put on the DVD. Tests run on the ever-popular VLC program allowed scanning, but also caused the 5.1 sound to stutter-step at times, negating the gain. Even later in the 2000's, there was no easy way to copy the highlights of the DVD's presentation onto a drive for compilation enjoyment. As before, the only other flaw that these products have is the fact that Doug Adams' astoundingly deep and insightful notes in the 45-page booklet will fly over the heads of people without a significant knowledge of the film's stories.

At any rate, such issues are trivial. Adams' work on collecting and presenting all of this information makes for at least an interesting read, even if it doesn't always connect in memory or terminology. Thankfully, Adams does provide a basic track-by-track analysis that will considerably assist the average listener in placing his connections into each context, but these "annotated notes" need to be downloaded from the Warner web site. His efforts to combine all of this information for an eventual book on Shore's trilogy of scores shows not only the complexity of Shore's creations for the films, but also the continued demand for the scores themselves. As with The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, this final set raises the same philosophical questions for collectors to ponder. After the original album releases catered to mass hysteria with things like nonsensical trading cards, we've swung all the way in the opposite direction with the DVD sound and sensational technical detail of notes in these sets. It does make a person wonder if there isn't a happy medium ground someplace, and it also continues to beg questions about when you can actually have too much of a good thing. Since this complete set caters to demand and hype from the trilogy's followers, you really can't fault Adams or anyone else for yielding to the temptation of producing the most technically perfect and thorough soundtrack products in history. If any scores of the 2000's deserve such treatment, it would be these. But if you never bought into the hype in the first place, then will these complete scores be worth the cost for you? And if you were to purchase just one of them, then which would it be? That's still hard to say, even after pondering the same question with the previous sets. For some, the elusive missing cues will be the attraction. For others, the DVD's 5.1 Dolby Digital sound or DVD-audio will be key. But for many others, the highlight albums that were released from 2001 to 2003, with their basic 16-bit stereo sound, will touch on all the basics and provide enough of the most pertinent material to suffice. Only you can make the determination about just how much of a fan of the trilogy you are (or how much of an audiophile you tend to be), for the answers to those questions will be the factor that separates you from your $50 (or more) per set.

In terms of the extent of improvement over the original albums, the complete set of The Fellowship of the Ring remains perhaps the most vital upgrade, followed by The Two Towers (this differs slightly from the order in which a person should investigate the regular albums, as discussed above). This isn't meant to diminish The Return of the King, but the third score, though adding the most quantity of material in its set form, does not feature enough high quality in that extra music to recommend it over the other two. The sets did become successively more expensive, further pointing to the first one as the most necessary. Regardless of your own decision about their comparative values, these sets are each spectacular in and of themselves. With the true fans of the trilogy forking out $175 overall for the three beautiful products, at least we can all rest assured that we will, in all likelihood, never need to purchase another release of Shore's classic trilogy ever again. That alone speaks to the triumph of these phenomenal products. As for the quality of the score itself, there is little to critique about Shore's work that hasn't already been mentioned. All three entries have been recognized as likely being the most popular, orchestrally robust scores of the Digital Age, and what the complete recordings prove is that Shore provided such mastery in great quantities. The original introduction, The Fellowship of the Ring, suffers from Shore's own restraint, withholding some of the most revealing and enjoyable incarnations of themes and ideas until the story had ventured to its maturity. As the middle child, The Two Towers suffers from some of the structural limitations of accompanying a sequence of events that neither introduces nor concludes its primary ideas. Finally, The Return of the King suffers a belated resolution, both in concept and in the simple fact that the last half hour of music from the film comes after the climax at Mount Doom, but it leaves you with a significant amount of pleasantly harmonic material in its farewell. All of them, including the slightly weaker The Return of the King, are excellent, diverse scores at a time when such monumental orchestral music is a rare find for even the grandest of Hollywood adventures. As said at the conclusion the reviews of the previous two entries, open your wallets for the complete set and don't worry about looking back.

Discussion of the 2010 "Rarities Archive":

Those most familiar with the music of The Lord of the Rings have always known that there exist alternate versions and unreleased supplemental materials from Howard Shore's endeavors. A long rumored additional CD containing these recordings was eventually incorporated as part of a comprehensive book by Doug Adams titled The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore's Scores and released in large hardcover form in late 2010. The book itself is undoubtedly the most detailed analysis of every aspect of a single piece of film music (assuming you consider the trilogy as one whole) ever to be assembled, taking all of Adams' information from the extensive booklets of the previously released complete album sets and expanding upon it for over 400 pages. It's a beautiful book, including color stills, sketches, studio photography, and samples of the score sheets. For casual listeners and non-music majors, however, the amount of discussion (and its technical nature) will be overwhelming and perhaps unsustainable, especially if you already considered yourself somewhat lost in the minutia presented in Adams' booklet notes for those aforementioned sets. The section about the recording process is the most intriguing, the controversial issue of the wet, concert hall-like sound of the recording clearly addressed as the stated intent of the crew. Without question, however, no matter your level of interest in the background and nitty gritty of these compositions, it can be said with certainty that no franchise of music better deserves such a treatment on written page, and its debut coincided with reports that Shore would collaborate once again with director Peter Jackson to score the pair of The Hobbit films long overdue because of legal wrangling involving the studio. Some of those who purchased the book for roughly $40 did so specifically for the CD of additional music from the trilogy stowed away in a pocket glued to the back cover. This, "The Rarities Archive," includes a variety of alternate performances, initial synthetic mock-ups, a trailer cue, and different edits of cues for scenes that were altered in post-production. The music is followed by about ten minutes of a recorded interview of Shore (conducted by Adams). For enthusiasts of the franchise's music, this overall collection of goodies is both fascinating and entertaining, though none of the inclusions is particularly Earth-shattering.

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Eight tracks of music comprise the material from The Return of the King on "The Rarities Archive." This portion of the album accounts for the most substantial, meaty ensemble action, though most of it comes in the form of alternate cues that some listeners may not notice as being much different from their final form. The one exception is the grating early version of "The Siege of Gondor," which was thankfully improved upon in the final recording. An altered amount of gravity in much of "The Muster of Rohan" still yields to the cue's outstanding finale. The theatrical version of "Shieldmaiden of Rohan," accounting for scene edits, is just as impressive as previously heard on album. The mass of the climax of the film is heard in "Sammath Naur," emphasizing a different, more soothing middle sequence for choir (in between recognizable passages, the one for the eagles thankfully included in identical form for good measure). The redemptive and pretty "Elanor" cue originally featured a short statement of the fellowship theme at the end; it was a decent idea, but allowing the woodwind line to conclude the cue, as in the final version, is much more satisfying. Two of the tracks from The Return of the King on this CD are basic mock-up demos made by Shore and his associates on a Synclavier system for filmmaker approval. The first is for the Gondor theme, which foreshadows the idea generally well but is obviously lacking the welcome repetition of the first phrase of the theme. The other demo adds a voice to the synthesizer and represents "Frodo's Song," the precursor to "Into the West." Extending out of the Shire and Hobbit material, this idea isn't as memorable in structure as "Into the West," but it's strong enough for one to wish that it would make its way into Shore's music for The Hobbit. The final track from The Return of the King on this CD is its original trailer music, arranged by Shore specifically for the occasion. It's a great summary of ideas from the score, opening with the Elf material before launching into the nature theme and eventually introducing the Gondor theme. The cue features a strikingly chopping string conclusion unlike anything in the rest of the trilogy, and even at two and a half minutes, this collection of abbreviated thematic ideas is a highlight of the entire CD. Paying the full price of the book simply for these CD tracks may be too steep for all but the most enthusiastic collectors of this franchise's music. Also to be considered is the fact that those who exclusively enjoy the 5.1 surround sound versions of the complete sets may have difficulty reverting back to standard stereo sound to appreciate this additional music. Still, Shore's efforts for The Lord of the Rings have proven to be peerless in the modern age of film music (and perhaps ever, some would argue), and any new music from the concept is welcome, in any form. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: *****
    Music as Heard on the 2003 Albums: ****
    Music as Heard on the 2007 Complete Set: *****
    Music as Heard on "The Rarities Archive" Album: ****
    Overall: *****

Bias Check:For Howard Shore reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.56 (in 25 reviews)
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 Track Listings (2003 Regular Albums): Total Time: 72:05

• 1. A Storm is Coming (2:52)
• 2. Hope and Memory (1:45)
• 3. Minas Tirith (3:37)
      featuring Ben del Maestro
• 4. The White Tree (3:25)
• 5. The Steward of Gondor (3:53)
      featuring Billy Boyd
• 6. Minas Morgul (1:58)
• 7. The Ride of the Rohirrim (2:08)
• 8. Twilight and Shadow (3:30)
      featuring Renee Fleming
• 9. Cirith Ungol (1:44)
• 10. Andúril (2:35)
• 11. Shelob's Lair (4:07)
• 12. Ash and Smoke (3:25)
• 13. The Fields of the Pelennor (3:26)
• 14. Hope Fails (2:20)
• 15. The Black Gate Opens (4:01)
       featuring Sir James Galway
• 16. The End of All Things (5:12)
       featuring Renee Fleming
• 17. The Return of the King (10:14)
       featuring Sir James Galway, Viggo Mortensen, and Renee Fleming
• 18. The Grey Havens (5:59)
       featuring Sir James Galway
• 19. Into the West (5:49)
       featuring Annie Lennox

 Track Listings (2007 Complete Set): Total Time: 229:15

CD 1: (57:31)

• 1. Roots and Beginnings (6:31)
• 2. Journey to the Crossroads (2:17)
• 3. The Road to Isengard (2:18)
• 4. The Foot of Orthanc (4:45)
• 5. Return to Edoras (1:51)
• 6. The Chalice Passed (1:51)
• 7. The Green Dragon (0:35)
      featuring Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan
• 8. Gollum's Villainy (2:10)
• 9. Eowyn's Dream (1:24)
• 10. The Palantir (3:10)
• 11. Flight from Edoras (2:19)
• 12. The Grace of Undomie (6:21)
       featuring Renee Fleming
• 13. The Eyes of the White Tower (4:33)
• 14. A Coronet of Silver and Gold (8:27)
• 15. The Lighting of the Beacons (9:03)

CD 2: (66:02)

• 1. Osgiliath Invaded (8:47)
      featuring Ben del Maestro
• 2. The Stairs of Cirith Ungol (2:41)
• 3. Allegiance to Denethor (3:20)
• 4. The Sacrifice of Faramir (4:08)
      featuring Billy Boyd performing 'The Edge of Night'
• 5. The Parting of Sam and Frodo (4:04)
• 6. Marshalling at Dunharrow (4:57)
• 7. Anduril - Flame of the West (3:28)
• 8. The Passing of the Grey Company (4:12)
• 9. Dwimorberg - The Haunted Mountain (2:26)
• 10. Master Meriadoc, Swordthain (1:40)
• 11. The Paths of the Dead (6:22)
• 12. The Siege of Gondor (9:01)
• 13. Shelob's Lair (8:53)
• 14. Merry's Simple Courage (2:09)

CD 3: (59:44)

• 1. Grond - The Hammer of the Underworld (1:33)
• 2. Shelob the Great (5:13)
• 3. The Tomb of the Stewards (3:58)
• 4. The Battle of the Pelennor Fields (4:10)
• 5. The Pyre of Denethor (2:59)
• 6. The Mumakil (0:57)
• 7. Dernhelm in Battle (2:06)
• 8. A Far Green Country (1:28)
• 9. Shieldmaiden of Rohan (5:07)
• 10. The Passing of Theoden (2:16)
• 11. The Houses of Healing (2:58)
       featuring Liv Tyler
• 12. The Tower of Cirith Ungol (4:41)
• 13. The Last Debate (4:21)
       featuring Sissel
• 14. The Land of Shadow (6:29)
• 15. The Mouth of Sauron (8:16)
       featuring Sir James Galway
• 16. For Frodo (3:17)
       featuring Ben del Maestro

CD 4: (45:58)

• 1. Mount Doom (4:09)
      featuring Renee Fleming
• 2. The Crack of Doom (4:02)
• 3. The Eagles (2:24)
      featuring Renee Fleming
• 4. The Fellowship Reunited (12:18)
      featuring Sir James Galway, Viggo Mortensen, and Renee Fleming
• 5. The Journey to the Grey Havens (7:35)
      featuring Sir James Galway
• 6. Elanor (1:28)
      featuring Sir James Galway
• 7. Days of the Ring (11:10)
      featuring Annie Lennox
• 8. Bilbo's Song (2:58)

 Track Listings (2010 Rarities Archive Album): Total Time: 79:13

The Fellowship of the Ring:
• 1. Prologue: One Ring to Rule Them All (Alternate) (5:57)
• 2. The Shire/The Hobbits (Mock-Up) (2:00)
• 3. Out From Bree (Theatrical Version & Alternate) (4:04)
• 4. Flight to the Ford (Alternate) (4:04)
• 5. Moria (Mock-Up) (1:45)
• 6. The Fighting Uruk-hai (Alternate) (1:47)
• 7. The Argonath (Alternate) (2:18)

The Two Towers:
• 8. Gwenwin in In ("Arwen's Song" Alternate/Mock-Up) (2:02)
• 9. Arwen's Somg (Complete) (2:11)
• 10. Emyn Muil (Alternate) (3:24)
• 11. The Rohan Fanfare (Mock-Up) (3:09)
• 12. The Eaves of Fangorn (Alternate) (5:29)
• 13. The Ent Theme (Mock-Up) (2:01)

The Return of the King:
• 14. The Return of the King Trailer (2:35)
• 15. The Gondor Theme (Mock-Up) (2:19)
• 16. The Muster of Rohan (Alternate) (6:44)
• 17. The Siege of Gondor (Alternate) (3:13)
• 18. Shieldmaiden of Rohan (Theatrical Version) (2:01)
• 19. Sammath Naur (Alternate) (8:53)
• 20. Frodo's Song ("Into the West" Alternate/Mock-Up) (2:23)
• 21. Elanor (Alternate) (1:30)

Interviews with Howard Shore:
• 22. In Conversation (Part 1) (5:06)
• 23. In Conversation (Part 2) (4:28)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The original 2003 (regular) album's insert includes notes from director Peter Jackson and composer Howard Shore. Also featured are lyrics from each of the ensemble vocal segments from the score, as well as the Annie Lennox song. Various useless goodies add to the cost of the 2003 limited album. For details about the differences between these releases, see the label's site:

The trilogy 2003 set includes general notes about the trilogy. The 2007 complete set features a 45-page booklet with extraordinary notation about the music by Film Score Monthly regular Doug Adams. That final set includes extensive packaging extras, with the four regular audio CDs existing in a smaller case that can be stored separately from the massive book-like exterior.

A detailed, track-by-track analysis (a supplement to the notes on the complete 2007 set) is available in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format for download from Warner Brothers at the following URL: This additional material, as in the previous scores' sets, was not included in the product itself because of cost restrictions due to the booklet size. There is no guarantee that this file will continue to exist at that location, so dedicated fans should download it at their earliest convenience. It was still active at that location in late 2008.

There exists no actual packaging for the Howe Records album contained within the 2010 Adams book. It is initially difficult to extract the CD from its paper sleeve because they are glued tightly to the inside of the back cover.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King are Copyright © 2003, 2007, 2010, Reprise Records (Regular), Reprise Records (Limited, Internet, and Trilogy), Reprise Records (Complete Set), Howe Records (Rarities Archive). The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 11/23/03 and last updated 11/22/10. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2003-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.