In this regard, HARP might be a better choice than MERP. Since the magic system in HARP is spells are learned skills, the GM can limit it as he sees fit, but it supposedly streamlines the Rolemaster rules even more and takes some design cues from d20 so it may be easier to grok.Rolemaster is close to the best for this feel I've run/played, but I've not gotten past minicampaigns and 4th level.
The old MERP is a streamlined version of Rolemaster - lousy for Tolkien, but great for that pervasive yet low powered magic and larger than life zero-to-hero. Plus, MERP can use the wider RM monsters, as it's pretty compatible. MERP also much reduces the table load: weapons tables are 2 pages (vs over 20+ for RM), crits another 4 pages (vs about 15 in RM), and attack spells another page (vs 15+ for RM). Moving maneuver and static maneuver tables 1 page each (same as RM). Still, second best.