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Take an Unexpected Journey through Middle Earth and discover the magic of Tolkien's novel The Hobbit set to music. Album of the Week, 10 December 2012.
From the album's opening strains in My Dear Frodo , the uncertain harmony before the comforting Shire theme acts as an effective summary of the plot in musical form; the film music is as peaceful and pastoral as it is ominous; a chilling insight as to what is in store for Bilbo and his friends on their quest. Old Friends is aptly named - bringing back some of the best tunes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and interweaving them with new material.
The shimmering violin lines, coupled with the chanting choir and military horns in An Ancient Enemy create a suitably dark atmosphere, and don't be fooled by the seemingly comforting title of Roast Mutton: the music takes on a haunting Minimalist quality before developing into a powerful brassy march.
Fans of Tolkien's novel will appreciate composer Howard Shore's attention to detail, as many of the movements' titles correspond with the chapter titles and capture the appropriate mood in the original text, but this music is accessible to even to newcomers to the plot. The drama and emotion present in the score tell the story, even when taken separately from the novel or the movie.
For anyone expecting the carefree pastoral joy of the well-known Lord of the Rings theme, the soundtrack to the first of the three Hobbit films is a notably darker journey through Middle Earth, but a compelling listen nonetheless.