Recently, I wrote in my "The Lord of the Rings:
The Two Towers" soundtrack review that "Music
provides a certain quality to storytelling,
particularly in Tolkien's literature. On the
surface, his lyrical texts provide a degree of
realism..." but also, "Positive themes, plot
points, and attitudes are all specifically introduced
Delighting in "At Dawn in Rivendell", a
collection of song and poetry from J.R.R. Tolkien's
"The Lord of the Rings", it comes to mind
that their very rhythm and rhyme provides connections.
The 'Verse of the Rings', delivered sagely by
basso profundo Christopher Lee, opens the disc in a
dramatic mood, with the low tones reserved primarily
for the spoken texts. Listening to the patterns, one
may detect an Eastern influence. The 'Song of
Gondor', performed by the Tolkien Ensemble, has a
Nordic flavour. 'A Walking Song (I)' has the
feel of an English folk dance. And so it goes. Usually
composers Casper Reiff and Peter Hall accentuate the
stylistic differences, sometimes it sounds as though
they were oblivious to them, yet the Middle-earth
cultures are obvious just by picking up on the meter.
Lee headlines amongst the various performers. His
narration is solid, avoiding of the histrionics that
epic words tend to bring, and his performance as
Treebeard in 'The Long List of the Ents' and
'Treebeard's Song" raises the question,
Why didn't Lee serve double duty on Peter
Jackson’s films rather than John Rhys-Davies? The
Tolkien Ensemble from Denmark acts much like a theatre
troupe, dividing the six musicians into roles faithful
to the author's work.
I do wish the 'dark' music were less generic.
Only 'Malbeth the Seer's Words', performed
by the Copenhagen Young Strings with recitation by
Christopher Lee, provides incidental music beyond a
dreary drone, and it, too, is merely fair. It is for
the songs, not the poems, that the composers seem most
inspired. 'A Drinking Song' offers earthy
humour, the nearly seven-minute 'Elven Hymn To
Elbereth Gilthoniel' that completes the [listed]
tracks is beautifully serious (and seriously
beautiful), and the aforementioned 'Long List of
the Ents' strikes a balance with wit and wisdom.
Consider the album's reprints of the verses, the
evocative illustrations by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe
II of Denmark, and "At Dawn in Rivendell" has
worthwhile packaging, as well.
Some people say good albums can to turn their
imaginations to other worlds. If you count yourself
among them, this is evidence of how right you are.