The work is striking, both from its power and familiarity from the movies, and for the compositional merits it has in its own rights. The music is interesting stuff, but, unlike most symphonies, there are more motifs than usual, and melodic lines are generally fairly brief - easier to repeat economically that way. We had balcony seats and a bird's eye view on the orchestra, perfect for playing "spot the instrumentalist currently playing", and for realizing just how many different instruments are used in the work. In addition to a full symphony orchestra, there was a dedicated tin whistle player, a hammered dulcimer player (both large and small!), two guitarists/mandolinists, and a panpiper/wooden flautist. Plus seven percussionists, a pianist, two harpists, an enormous choir, a children's choir, and four vocal soloists. Most of the more specialist intstruments were used for very particular themes, just a few times; this is why I noticed that the large hammered dulcimer was only ever used for Gollum themes, while the small one was only ever used for Shire jigs.
Generally, the piece was well-performed, but, however solid they were in most respects, I was less keen on the two lead vocal soloists. The boy soprano was prone to adding an excess of vibrato and grace notes, while the mezzo-soprano sounded very breathy. I don't want to make too big a deal of either of these points, as both were quite competent with melodic line, and did reasonable justice to the ethereality of their parts.
Is the making of film scores into symphony going to be a fad? A flier in the program tells me that on June 28th and 29th at Roy Thomson Hall, there will be a Star Wars Concert, with music from all six movies.