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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [Special Edition]

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Album Review

Composer Howard Shore's magnificent, appropriately epic work on director Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy garnered the Canadian composer three Academy awards, and rightly so. When Jackson decided to tackle The Hobbit in 2012, it took little convincing to bring Shore back to Middle Earth along with him, and the resulting Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of three installments, dutifully reflected the lighter tone of the pre-Fellowship film while paying homage to the darker adventures that follow. For The Desolation of Smaug, Shore honed the themes introduced in An Unexpected Journey and amped up the darkness and bombast, introducing a memorable new cue to accompany the arrival of the film's scaly antagonist.

Customer Reviews

This is Going to Be Great

Howard Shore never disappoints. His scores (here I primarily refer to his work in Middle Earth) are works of pure artistic genius---epic and grand while simultaneously intimate; rich and layered while also profoundly simple and pure; hope-infused and utterly transcendent, works that capture the very nature of the human spirit, and of courage and love and hope and perseverance. They cut directly to the emotions, sublime in every way, able to stand alone from any film (though something magical---something nearly divine, even---does occur when the two are experienced together). All in all, Howard Shore stands as the perfect example of some of the best mankind has to offer in terms of musical and artistic potential. His work is grand, and it is beautiful. It soars.

(On a side note: The addition of Ed Sheeran on this score is an interesting choice, but garners a compelling freshness and sense of complexity that actually works. Sheeran himself is something of a musical prodigy, and the fact he performed every instrument on "I See Fire" says as much. I appreciate the risk Peter Jackson and Shore took in letting Sheeran on board, and I think it definitely paid off. Great track.)

Can't go home again

Regardless of the success of the film, the music for The Lord of the Rings films continues to take a beating. Poor Howard Shore. Who knows what his vision would have been had they just let him do his job. Unfortunately it can be argued that with each Jackson film the music has been less good than its predecessors-despite the cumulated accomplishment of the whole.

For those who like film music, "you know you're in trouble when"...orchestrator extraordinaire Conrad Pope gets called in. For the first time in four films and 14 hours of music Shore didn't participate in the recording of the soundtrack-and didn't orchestrate the score rather the whole thing fell into Pope's hands.

The producers put a good face on this blaming it on schedules. However, that doesn't hold water. This music is Shore's baby, his magnum opus, his chef d'oeuvre. There's a big history here since Shore was fired from King Kong after having written and recorded a large part of the score. The Jackson/Shore relationship wasn't working then and they gave it another go on The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey. So much so Shore is missing from the film's featurettes. However, even had the producers just wanted to use a clean up man like Pope for the two remaining Hobbit films, they would still need to credit Shore because presumably have to credit Shore for all his dozens of themes.

The end results in this penultimate film is a mixed bag. Nowhere does Shore produce the kind of strong themes as he did in the original trilogy. But one wonders what he would have done under healthy creative circumstances. What we have is a lot of muddling weak motifs, sounding slightly different in their arrangement (from all the other Shore orchestrated score) just ain't what it used to be.

With that said, I think I'm like other people who are big fans of Shore and his LOTR scores who will take what they can get. I enjoy these scores. I just can't shake the idea that Shore is doing the best he can in very difficult circumstances.

I see fire

I see fire is incredible! Can't stop listening to it!! Absolutely love it Ed!! <3


Born: October 18, 1946 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Howard Shore has composed the scores for over 50 films, including The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, After Hours, Seven, and both the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. His collaborations with David Cronenberg have resulted in scores for the films The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, M. Butterfly, and Crash, spanning a nearly 20-year period by the year 2001. Shore's formal education came at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. From 1969-1972 he recorded...
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