The final film in the Lord Of The Rings blockbuster trilogy features the climax of the epic journey that brought Tolkien's world before our very eyes. The Complete Recordings series featuring the soundtrack albums have been hits and award winners. Now with The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King featuring Into The West by Annie Lennox, this album from the series' composer Howard Shore is sure to score with movie fans. For fans of The Lord Of The Rings films, and those who purchased last year's The Fellowship Of The Ring The Complete Recordings and The Two Towers The Complete Recordings, this incredible package completes a now classic set of soundtracks.
This five-disc set caps off the "complete recordings" series, which offers extensive versions of Howard Shore's score for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The main problem lays in its being the last installment: Most of the main characters, along with their themes, have been introduced in the previous two sets, creating a certain sense of familiarity. But there is still plenty to please fans here, and then some. Though it includes the climactic trek to Mount Doom, the overall mood is less dark than in The Two Towers. The London Philharmonic Orchestra handles the heavy lifting, with help from adult and children's choirs, and well-selected guest stars. Soprano Renée Fleming, for instance, lends a particularly eerie, otherworldly touch to disc 1's "The Grace of Undómiel," and disc 4's "Mount Doom" and "The Eagles." Meanwhile, flutist James Galway provides a quasi-spiritual counterbalance, a musical ray of hope on tracks such as disc 3's "The Mouth of Sauron." And of course, Annie Lennox's Academy Award–winning "Into the West" is here, incorporated in disc 4's "Days of the Ring." Finally, the fifth disc is a DVD-Audio that includes the score in super-duper surround sound. It may seem like overkill, but too much is never enough for LOTR fans--and besides, people buying this set are exactly the kind of people who own the type of equipment required to make disc 5 explode. Finally, the packaging includes new artwork and liner notes written by Doug Adams, an expert on the music from LOTR. --Elisabeth Vincentelli