MUSIC OF THE ELVISH WORLD
GORDON RUMSON explores
Allan Rae's 'Mirror of Galadriel'
With the tsunami of Elvish lore and Tolkien-madness descending upon us
with the recent release of the first installment of the Lord of the Rings
film it might be a congenial time to consider a brilliant and bewitching
composition inspired by the don's fancy (as Robert Graves ever so snidely
In 1977 Allan Rae composed the five movement suite entitled Mirror
of Galadriel. There have been innumerable works (mostly death metal
songs) and compositions inspired by J R R Tolkien's epic fantasy novel,
but attempts at serious classical realizations frequently fall short. For
some reason there is a peculiarly strong urge to a New-Age style emptiness.
In song settings it is often an issue of the sentimentality inherent
in the original text (Bilbo's 'songs' are trite, as they ought to be for
the mostly simple Hobbit), while the Elvish songs miss something in translation
from Sindarin or Quenya. Only roaring electric guitars in orcish songs seem
to work well. The magic that Tolkien weaves in the vision of Galadriel,
of the Ents, of the hidden danger of Isengard and the murderous horror of
Mordor seem to elude classical composers.
That is why Allan Rae's Mirror of Galadriel is so important. For
Allan Rae has captured the magic and held it together with strength of form,
beauty of orchestration and above all sensitivity to sound. Most importantly
the music is never sentimental, though it is deeply moving.
Copyright © 1 January 2002
Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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