Lit­tle big score

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - JO­CE­LYN CLARKE

HOWARD SHORE The Hob­bit: An Un­ex­pected Jour­ney Water Tower Mu­sic/ Decca Records ★★★★

Wag­ner’s The Ring Cy­cle comes close in terms of orig­i­nal­ity, am­bi­tion and scale.

Although Shore and Jack­son fell out on King Kong over “cre­ative dif­fer­ences”, they’ve re­united again for The Hob­bit: An Un­ex­pected Jour­ney, which builds on the ex­tra­or­di­nary success of their Rings col­lab­o­ra­tion. Shore’s mas­ter­ful new score re­vis­its orig­i­nal themes from pre­vi­ous scores while cre­at­ing vi­brant and dy­namic new ones. Ex­u­ber­ant and con­fi­dent, Shore deftly mixes sturm und drang ac­tion cues with play­ful folk and surg­ing sym­phonic mo­tifs. He com­bines spare melodic lines with driv­ing rhythms and lush or­ches­tra­tion (shim­mer­ing strings and stac­cato brass) to ex­tra­or­di­nary dra­matic ef­fect – the Wag­ne­r­ian chorales on An An­cient En­emy and Brass But­tons are stand­out.

This is a ma­jes­tic and lyri­cal score, epic and big­hearted in the best way. Down­load: Over Hill, An An­cient En­emy, Brass But­tons, Dream­ing of Bag End Over the course of three decades, a sub­ver­sive in­tel­li­gence and a rare ex­pres­sive­ness has shaped com­poser Howard Shore’s film mu­sic. Again and again he has demon­strated his sin­gu­lar and play­ful ap­proach to form and his ex­quis­ite in­stinct for colour, from the aleatory pi­ano of David Finch­ers The Game to the jaunty strings of Martin Scors­ese’s Hugo to the puls­ing elec­tron­ica of David Cro­nen­berg’s Cos­mopo­lis.

Shore’s Os­car-win­ning col­lab­o­ra­tion with di­rec­tor Peter Jack­son on The Lord of the Rings tril­ogy re­sulted in some of the Cana­dian scorer’s best film mu­sic. At times more op­er­atic than cin­e­matic, the three scores present a unique mu­sic world that is crammed with ac­tion and drama in the best heroic tra­di­tion. But they also in­clude an Tolkien-es­que ar­ray of mu­si­cal id­ioms (from the folk­loric and the canon­i­cal to the aca­demic), in­cor­po­rat­ing nearly 100 themes/ leit­mo­tifs over some 11 hours of mu­sic. Only Richard

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