The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - The Complete Recordings (Soundtrack) by Howard Shore

 

 

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Soundtrack) by Howard Shore

"Score of the Rings:  Part II"
Review by Christopher Coleman

 

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Soundtrack) by Howard Shore

Lord of the Rings: 
The Two Towers
9/10

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Soundtrack) by Howard Shore

 

Category  |   Score

Originality 9
Music Selection 8
Composition 9
CD Length 8
Track Order 8
Performance 9
Final Score 9/10
 

 

Composer Howard Shore
Composer 
Howard Shore

 

Real Audio Clips

 
 
 
 

 

Quick Quotes


"Shore's score for The Two Towers works on two levels: providing dramatic thrust with musical language, while at the same time adding an additional layer of emotion to a film which lingers in the heart and mind long after you've seen it. It's increasingly rare in modern times that we are witness to true film classics."
*****

Ryan Keaveney - Cinemusic Reviews
The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers

 

 

 

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The Two Towers


The Two Towers

Composed, Orchestrated, and Conducted by Howard Shore
Album Produced by Howard Shore
Performed byThe London Symphony Orchestra, The London Voices, The London Oratory School Schola; Emilia Torrini, Elizabeth Fraser, Isabel Bayrakdarian, Sheila Chandra, Ben Del Maestro (Solo vocals)
Released by Warner/Reprise Records - December 10th, 2002

With his award winning effort for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, composer Howard Shore gave many a film music fan something to salivate in anticipation over for the next 12 months. Beyond that, it may very well be that Howard Shore's intricate score might be sparking a new film music revival...and such a revival is certainly needed in the hearts of those who might just be getting a smidge tired of what today's pop "musicians" have to offer.

If there was ever a candidate for such an honor, since the John Williams Film Music Revival of the late 1970's and 80’s, Howard Shore's work for 2001's Fellowship of the Ring would be it. Now, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers has arrived to carry on the standard set and help boost the popularity of the trilogy even further.

Diving into the perils of the second act of Tolkien's mythological tale, composer Howard Shore envelopes audiences with a score that leaves some of the popular and good-natured, musical elements of Fellowship of the Ring as far as behind as the Shire is from Mordor. In their place comes several new themes, but none quite as bright or uplifting as those from Fellowship of the Ring. Of course, there are enough returning motifs to securely tie The Two Towers to its predecessor. Taking his cue from Tolkien and Jackson, Shore, through the score takes the characters into the darkness and depths of the plot. As the screws of the evil Sauron and Saruman tighten on our heroes, so does Shore's music. Gollum, a peripheral character in Fellowship of the Ring, now comes to center-stage and duly receives his own song, which adds a truly eerie, twisted layer to this musical experience. As hard to believe as it might seem, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers one-ups the overall musical intensity of Fellowship of the Ring as the story dictates, but it does so at the expense of the balanced listening experience that Fellowship offers.

The Two Towers continues the journeys of the now splintered Fellowship of the Ring. The audience now follows three storylines instead of the more streamlined tale of the first film. The score naturally follows suit. The music represents the plight of hobbits: Frodo and Sam, as they continue on towards Mordor; their kindred hobbits: Merry and Pippin as they have been “hobbitnapped” by Saruman's puppet-pack of Uruk-hai warriors; and finally, the score depicts the quest of the tri-union of man, elf, and dwarf, as Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli pursue the hobbitnapping warriors; however, in so doing are brought into a grossly larger conflict. As the complexities of the story increases exponentially, Shore's music for the second film is challenged to keep pace…and does.

The now lost ringbearer Frodo and Samwise are finally caught up to by the ever-pursuant Gollum. This one-time ringkeeper is represented by a couple of orchestral motifs, including a most subtle one, lightly played on the cimbalon (an Arabic instrument introduced in the middle ages - see tracks 2, 4). However, Gollum may be best represented by the brooding vocal song performed, with freakish appropriateness, by Emiliana Torrini at the start of the end credits (track 19). In contrast, Shore continues to represent the hope of the current ringbearer, Frodo, and his stalwart companion with the Hobbit-theme (or “In Dreams”) introduced in Fellowship; however each quote of the simple and comfortable theme found in The Two Towers is now most often wrapped in a shroud of shadow and doubt (see The Taming of Smeagal (2), Samwise the Brave (18)). Amidst the "darkness" of the second act, The Two Towers offers few moments of levity, hence fewer such musical moments as was possible in the Fellowship of the Ring. Further, the film gives equal time to the growing sub-plot of the destiny of Mankind, and so we find an increasing amount of music representing this struggle at the expense of more hopeful-hobbit-material.

The other two Hobbits that comprised the original fellowship, Merry and Pippin, now find themselves captives of the Uruk-hai warriors. Their escape leads them to the introduction of a new and important character of the story, namely Treebeard,...and thus yet another new musical element. Treebeard and his people, the Ents, are depicted by Shore by employing a variety of percussion, deep woodwinds, and choral elements. We hear a primal introduction of the Ents in track 11, Treebeard, where the emphasis is placed on the wood percussions, but by the end of the film, the emphasis has shifted to a militant flavor of percussion and to an operatic chorus (found in the second half of track 17, Isengard Unleashed). While the Ents wage their war on Saruman on one front, mankind and elves (and a dwarf) deal with another. This massive conflict is underscored with both new and familiar themes as well as the most intense action music to hit the screen in a year.

Our trio of human, elf, and dwarf are introduced most boldly in the film, which translates into track 5, The Uruk-hai. Although not heard in the film in this arrangement, track 5 proves to be one of the most important of the soundtrack as it serves to connect act 1 with act 2. We hear, not only the Fellowship theme, but the Isengard/Saruman theme, the Uruk-hai theme, and are given an introduction to one of the most dominant themes of The Two Towers: the Rohan. Since the story begins to focus on the fate humanity, the people of Rohan and their King are given an ancient, heroic and memorable theme by Shore. Much to do has been made about Shore's use of the hardinger fiddle (an instrument that sports two layers of strings, that when the top layer is played the second is set into motion as well). The attention and adulation given to Shore’s choice is with good reason, as the hardinger fiddle's distinctive sound helps to further develop the Rohan's Nordic-like culture and rings true to one's ear.

One curiosity in The Two Towrers is the absence of any contribution from Enya. More than the absence of her Oscar Nominated song "May it Be" is the evaporation of the theme for Aragorn and Arwen which Shore composed but she added her vocal talents to. Since it is a personal favorite, the exchange of this theme for Evenstar (8) is a most painful one Whatever the reasons, the original theme seemed to reflect the same range of emotions as Evenstar and so, at least, a quotation of the theme would seem in order, even if only performed instrumentally

As Fellowship of the Ring did, The Two Towers offers some truly engaging action-sequences and music, while also providing music that is downright frightful. To a greater degree than its predecessor, the soundtrack of The Two Towers edits Shore's music in way that is pleasing to listen to but is far from keeping the chronological order of the film. This might frustrate those looking to experience the film again through listening to the soundtrack, but in six months, when the first DVD arrives, it will hardly matter. Minus the idyllic Shire theme or some of the more playful moments of Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers is a slightly less balanced score. Still, after a few successive listens to this latest score, as presented on the soundtrack, it becomes enthralling. The overall feel of the Two Towers is like that of the second half of Fellowship. It matches the mood of the film to a "TTT," and everything Howard Shore does in The Two Towers, just as he did in Fellowship of the Ring, he does very well.

*There are three versions of the soundtrack available: The standard edition, which features The Two Towers score only; The Limited Edition, which also features the bonus track of Farewell to Lorien (20) from the extended version of The Fellowship of the Ring; and the Internet Limited Edition, which tags on a plethora of additional media: movie trailer, maps, images, poetry, music video and more. While it is likely that Farewell to Lorien will be offered on some future Lord of the Rings Trilogy Collection, it is worth the extra few bucks to be able to enjoy the lyrical piece. Collectors and devoted Tolkien fans will want to jump on the chance to purchase the latter, but you can only do so through Warner/Reprise directly.
 


Track Listing and Ratings

 Track

Title Time

Rating

1 Foundations of StoneTrack 1 - Foundations of Stone 3:51  *****
2 The Taming of Smeagol 2:48  ****
3 The Riders of RohanTrack 3 - The Riders of Rohan 4:05  ****
4 The Passage Through the Marshes 2:46  ***
5 The Uruk-hai 2:58  ****
6 The King of the Golden Hall 3:49  *****
7 The Black Gate is Closed 3:17  ****
8 EvenstarTrack 8 - Evenstar 3:15  ****
9 The White Rider 2:28  ****
10 Treebeard 2:43  ***
11 The Leave Taking 3:41  ****
12 Helm's Deep 3:53  *****
13 The Forbidden Pool 5:27  ***
14 Breath of Life 5:07  ****
15 The Hornburg 4:36  ****
16 Forth Eorlingas 3:15  *****
17 Isengard Unleashed 5:01  *****
18 Samwise the BraveTrack 18 - Samwise the Brave 3:46  ****
19 Gollum's Song 5:553  ****
20 Farewell to LorienTrack 20 - Farewell to Lothlorien (Bonus Track) 4:36  ****
 

Total Running Time

76:47  

Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers (Soundtrack) by Howard Shore

*The Experience-O-Meter displays the track to track listening experience of this soundtrack based on the 5-Star rating given to each track.  It provides a visual depiction of the ebbs and flows of the CD's presentation of the soundtrack.

 

Referenced Reviews
Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring

 

 


All artwork from Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers  is exclusive property of Warner/Reprise Records (c) 2002. 
 Its appearance is for informational purposes only. Review format version 5.7

 

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