Gimli, having some difficulty maintaining his dignity of late, loses control of his horse. The music, like his steed, trots right out from under him in a brush of sixteenth notes bounding through the string section. The exodus from Edoras proceeds, travelers doing what they can to keep their spirits up. Théoden sees Éowyn smile at Gimli’s misfortune and notes to Aragorn that her smiles have been too rare over the years. He regrets that he did not act as the father she needed. Here Shore begins not the Éowyn and Théoden theme, as might seem appropriate, but Éowyn Sheildmaiden of Rohan, the theme that speaks of her in isolation.
Éowyn’s principle theme (Éowyn Shieldmaiden of Rohan) takes a few interesting turns as she speaks to Aragorn. Théoden may not have seen much of her smile, but Aragorn seems to elicit it freely. Here Éowyn’s theme halts and starts, reacting bashfully—almost comically—to Aragorn as he attempts to graciously accept her grisly stew. Solo clarinet enters and a new theme appears to be forming. A descending F-major arpeggio at 1:53 gives just the slightest hint of the Éowyn and Aragorn theme, still in a state of faint self-realization.
Oboe enters, presenting the next step in the developing Fellowship in Rohan motif, but immediately following is a familiar line in solo French horn, The Realm of Gondor. Aragorn not only links the Rohirrim to the Fellowship, but also with Gondor. In The Realm of Gondor’s opening pitches—heard here for only the second time in The Lord of the Rings—we are reminded of his heritage, and his regal birthright.
But Aragorn is not yet ready to claim that birthright. His mind is torn between his responsibilities in Middle-earth, fears of his own potential weaknesses, and his love for Arwen. Beneath the Gondor theme the Rivendell arpeggios begin to flow, warm but somber, devoid of the lucent orchestrations that colored the lines in The Fellowship of the Ring. Lyric soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian enters singing “Evenstar” over female chorus divided three ways. The line, which moves from voice to alto flute, combines the ambrosial vocal tone of the Elves with melodic contours directly out of The Heroics of Aragorn theme—including the crucial down-and-back-up figure. Can Aragorn lead the World of Men without abandoning his love for Arwen?
Should he love her at all? The Diminishment of the Elves (“Gilrean’s Song”) returns for the first time since Aragorn visited his mother’s grave, reminding him that he is a mortal man, and that even in the best of circumstances would eventually leave Arwen bereft. The theme colors its surroundings, migrating from female chorus to low strings. With a final sigh of the alto flute the Evenstar and Diminishment themes are intertwined, shrouding the future in uncertainty. Will Arwen and Aragorn accept theirs as a love inevitably doomed to recede, or will they proceed down a path of uncertainty, sustained by their enduring affection?
Isabel Bayrakdarian’s first statement of the Evenstar (Arwen & Aragorn) theme is not heard in the final film. Instead, the female chorus and the harp arpeggios carry the first moments of Aragorn’s flashback by themselves.
Her performance is heard in its entirety here on CD.
Text by Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens
Sindarin Translation by David Salo
First Heard: Disc Two | Track Seven
U i vethed… | This is not the end…
na i onnad. | It is the beginning.
Si boe u-dhannathach | You cannot falter now
Ae u-esteliach nad – | If you trust nothing else
Estelio han – | Trust this -
Estelio veleth. | Trust love.
Listening Example: Disc One | Track Eleven| 1:54
“Isabel is a lyric soprano. A friend of mine gave me a CD of her singing, and i asked her about performing very early on,” Howard Shore recalls. “I knew that if i wanted to write anything in her range she would be wonderful. She has a beautiful voice that I felt was appropriate for ‘Evenstar.’”
© The Annotated Score (The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films)
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