These five pieces depict characters from J.R.R. Tolkien's celebrated trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, which made a great and lasting impact upon the composer from the time when he first read the books as a teenager, living opposite Sarehole Mill, the model for Tolkien's own ‘Hobbiton Mill', on the banks of the River Cole in a leafy suburb of Birmingham.
The benevolent wizard of Middle Earth is called by a number of names throughout the trilogy. Here he is seen casting spells to ward off the encroaching darkness, with a central section depicting him riding his fabulous horse, Shadowfax.
One of the nastiest and most dangerous characters in the saga, Gollum's vicious nature is evident in his spiteful music, punctuated by the gulping sounds he makes which give him his name. A central, slower episode is marked ‘as if wheedling or insinuating'.
III Bilbo Baggins
A country gentleman at heart, Bilbo the hobbit shares a love of life, comfort and good food with the rest of his race. His fussy demeanour hides a courageous heart and a noble spirit.
A malevolent entity from the dawn of time, the Balrog is described as a creature "of shadow and fire". Terrifying to behold, these creatures serve Morgoth, the evil god of Middle Earth.
V Tom Bombadil
J.R.R. Tolkien explained that the character of Tom Bombadil represented ‘the vanishing spirit of rural England'. Strikingly dressed in a blue jacket, yellow boots and a hat with a feather stuck in its brim, the quirky Tom lives an idyllic life and embodies a happy world of lost innocence.