Track-by-track analysis by King Mark

01 – Lumos! (Hedwig’s Theme) (1:37)
Hedwig’s Theme played out straight o­n celesta, horn and strings like in the previous concert versions. At least it’s not the full version and o­nly wastes 1 1/2 minute of the CD.

02 – Aunt Marge’s Waltz (2:15)
A mock classical sounding waltz. Starts off quietly o­n the oboe, then joined by other woodwinds, and as usual for Williams progresses to full orchestra as the action gets more elaborate o­n screen. It has a lofty quality to it and is reminescent of “The Weightless Waltz” from his Lost in Spacepilot score. This is new thematic material, but I guess it will serve the purpose of this o­ne scene o­nly. o­n the album it may qualify as a ‘concert version’, maybe it will be edited differently o­n screen.

03 – The Knight Bus (2:52)
Again this is new thematic material and o­ne of the more unusual Williams cues in a while. This is a frantic jazzy piece that was surely inspired from the saxophone passages in Catch Me if you Can. In terms of pace it is more similar to the unused “Arrival in New York” from Home Alone 2, and also mixed in are unusual orchestrations (bells, a whistle) that are similar to “The Cantina Band” in Star Wars. These fast passages, without doubt underscoring the Knight Bus racing throught the streets of London, are mixed with slower athmospheric scary passages through out the cue. Overall enjoyable and should work great in the film.

04 – Apparition o­n the Train (2:15)
Ominous chords mixed with shrieking woodwinds and creepy violins opens this cue. It is very slow and deliberate and gets louder and louder as the cue progresses, scoring the sequence when a Dementor is slowly approaching Harry in the train and he remains frozen in his seat.

05 – Double Trouble (1:37)
Sung version of “Double Trouble” (a.k.a. “Something Wicked this Ways Comes”) in medieval instruments, as heard o­n the Teaser Trailer, with a few extra sections

06 – Buckbeak’s Flight (2:08)
Starts off with loud percussions, then into a soaring new uplifting theme for full orchestra. The sound quality of this broadcast does not permit full appreciation of the orchertrations. So, cues like this is the main drawback of listening to scores in advance previews in streaming audio. This for me would be The Theme o­n the soundtrack, it’s beautiful, but less immediately hummable than let’s say “Fawke’s theme”.

07 – A Window to the Past (3:54)
The second loveliest theme of this score, this cue starts out o­n a solo flute with another new thematic idea and is very medieval sounding, then more period instruments come in like a harpsichord I think. Overall the feeling is sadness. Along the way the cue soars to full strings, sounding like the theme Jane Eyre, in the middle of the cue “Hedwig`s Theme” is quoted, then all ends quietly with more sad woodwinds.

08 – The Whomping Willow and The Snowball Fight (2:22)
Frantic brass and woodwind action cue (of …”Hedwig’s Theme”), followed by a typical Williams jaunty scherzo, which is always very enjoyable.

09 – Secrets of the Castle (2:32)
Starts off with a slow variation of “Double Trouble” played o­n the celesta, followed my a middle age sounding oboe quote and then women’s chorus. Then the cue veers in another direction, with another odd quirky and fast woodwind theme (maybe for Trelawney)

10 – The Portrait Gallery (2.05)
Bouncy rendition “Double Trouble” mixed with dark underscore similar to Indiana Jones.

11 – Hagrid the Professor (1:59)
Middle age sounding cue with period instruments (Dufay Collective maybe?). Starts off with a new theme then into “Double Trouble”

12 – Monster Books and Boggarts! (2:26)
Begins fast, then some dark music, scary shrieking woodwinds, then a sort of violin fiddle and clarinet theme.

13 – Quidditch, Third Year (3:47).
All out Williams brass and woodwind action cue with wordless choir mixed in. Again this is new thematic material through out, but has a similar feel to “The Quiddish Match” from the first album

14 – Lupin’s Transformation and Chasing Scabbers (3:01)
Starts off slowly with a delicate melody, then loud ominus chords and brass punctuations underscoring what seems Lupin turning into a werewolf. This leads into a fast pace chase music similar to “Flight from Peru” in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

15 – The Patronus Light (1:12)
Other wordly choirs in a new thematic idea again. There is a wondrous and magical feel to it.

16 – The Werewolf Scene (4:25).
Dark and loud action underscore (brass and lots of tympani hits). No theme really. The o­nly cue I find overbearing.

17 – Saving Buckbeak (6:39)
Some sneaking around music. Ominous chords leading to *gasp* …Buckbeak’s execution (?) …music stops… then a pulsing rythmic motif sounding like the Dr.Know game music in A.I. The cue ends with woodwind flourishes.

18 – Forward to Time Past (2:33)
A clock motif (with instruments that sound like clocks).

19 – The Dementors Converge (3:12)
Return of the Ominous Music with wordless choirs. Reminescent of passages in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

20 – Finale (3:24)
Starts off fast and scary with women’s chorus again… silence… the Patronus theme choir music returns mixed with a horn motif, and it’s extremely beautiful. “A Window to the Past” flute theme is then heard and that theme swells for full orchestra. The End.

21 – Mischief Managed (12:15)
This is a Suite of all the Themes, probably the End Credits. I guess this explains why there are no other Concert Vesions o­n the album as they are all included here.
Breakdown: “Nimbus 2000” – “Hedwig’s Theme Fanfare” – “Double Trouble” orchestral version followed by period instruments – “A Window to the Past” – “Buckbeak’s Flight” – “The Snowball Fight” – “Double Trouble” Song Version – “The Knight Bus” – “Marge’s Waltz” – “Hedwig’s Theme”.

Note1: There’ s a short passage that I loved o­n the ABC preview that seem to be missing (when Buckbeak is Flying)… This would be Wanted Unreleased Cue#1

Note 2: None of new music from the trailers is o­n the soundtrack, including the so called heroic theme.

Review by Alan Sung

Fresh, energetic, surprising, but sounds curiously detached in spots. The action cues are superbly constructed but sound busier than they are truly visceral. This is the most inspired mickey-mousing Williams has done in some time, but it’s still just that — mickey-mousing — and the o­nly emotion he conjures up — for me, as I know everyone will disagree with me here — is a vague, generic sense of frenzy.

Unlike Silvestri’s rousing but monotonic Van Helsing, even the action tracks here don’t quite bleed into each other, yet there’s no exceptional melody or motivic hook that comes to the forefront and really takes charge here. In an odd way, the score manages to sound almost humdrum without overtly retreading o­n previous territory.

The score is more ambitious (much like the novel/film for which it was written), pursuing a kind of primeval sense of mystery and mysticism…Williams takes us beyond the predictable fluttery strings, whirling woodwinds, jingling percussion that characterized the first two scores and gives us something that sounds less consciously child-like…but somehow the approach meshes awkwardly with the literal-minded, straight-forward-adventure approach to the action writing.

Very mixed feelings about this score, obviously. I’m eager to see how it works with its movie.

Review by Ray Barnsbury

Well I just finished my second listen. There’s definitely something to be said for second listens: for me, at least, all my preconceptions were broken or satisfied the first time, so the second time is easier to just relax and take it all in. My thoughts o­n certain highlights:

Aunt Marge had me literally laughing out loud. What a fun piece of music! It sounds both very classical and very much like a circus, maybe a trapeze act. A terrific listen.

The Knight Bus was o­ne of those extreme surprises. I was in no way expecting anything like this jazzy, swinging cue. And yet it fits so well. I especially love the whistles and brass punctuations that imitate traffic . . . brilliant!

Apparition o­n the Train introduces what seems to be the dementors’ atmospheric music. A combination of tense strings, frenetic brass, and a low airy undertone, I would imagine that this underscores the ghoulish beings quite well.

Double Trouble is fantastic. I’m not sure what inspired Williams to go for such as medieval sound, but he worked wonders with it. This is totally unlike anything heard in the previous Potter scores, and it seems a good representation of the film, from what we’ve seen of it. Fun, dark, and mischevious. Kudos to the Dufay Collective!

Buckbeak’s Flight: The track I had anticipated most turned out to be o­ne of the biggest surprises. Expecting something in the vein of the flying scenes from Hook andE.T., I was blown away by this powerful, sweeping, majestic track. I will certainly be coming back to this o­ne again and again.

Next, the most pleasant shocker: A Window to the Past. This track introduces what seems to be the theme for Harry’s past/parents for this film. Beginning with a lovely recorder solo, the theme is nicely developed. It is an aching, heartwrenching theme of great beauty that immediately reminded me of the Jane Eyre Theme. Simply wonderful. If there is o­ne classic Williams theme from the score, this is it.

Love The Snowball Fight, a cheery, festive little tune.

The action tracks The Whomping Willow and Quidditch, Third Year are certainly impressive, and each contains its own different subtheme. It’s difficult to tell if these motifs represent a larger aspect of the overall story, or just these specific cues, since they don’t seem to be repeated elsewhere and there’s probably plenty of unreleased music.

Secrets of the CastleThe Portrait Gallery, and Hagrid, the Professor each feature “Double Trouble” in o­ne form or another. In the first it’s creepy and mysterious (with a great little reference to “Hedwig’s Theme” without missing a beat), and it’s more fun and lively in the latter two. Again, great use of medieval sounding instruments.

The Patronus Light is a beautiful, restrained piece for chorus that really does give the impression of shimmering light and hope.

The Werewolf Scene and The Dementors Converge are action tracks that I’ll have to revisit to get a better feel for. In the second however, is a really neat touch – a horn playing snippets of the “Past” theme as if to represent Harry’s failed attempts at producing a Patronus.

The score’s Finale ends gloriously. The Patronus voices are heard o­nce again, this time with a French horn playing an uplifting variant of the Past theme o­n top of them. Then comes more development of the Past theme, passed around the orchestra and taking us home to . . .

Mischief Managed! As I hoped, this is an end credits suite. Beginning with a great rendition of the “Nimbus 2000” theme which segues into a brief fanfare of “Hedwig’s Theme”, we are treated to numerous fun performances of “Double Trouble”. Following this are the “Past Theme”, “Buckbeak’s Flight”, “The Snowball Fight”, choral version of “Double Trouble”, “The Knight Bus”, “Aunt Marge’s Waltz”, and o­ne final statement of “Hedwig’s Theme” o­n the celeste. I have to say I was at first disappointed to hear the themes presented in the same arrangements as they appear in the score. But it’s a comprehensive suite that can serve as both a good sampler of the score and effective closing summary.

I’m really looking forward to delving further into this score in the next weeks, and especially experiencing it in the film. I’m so thankful this came out today, it’s really gotten everyone happy and talking about what we’re here to talk about!

Review by ‘Drax’

By far the best Harry Potter score. So good, in fact, that it doesn’t even sound like a typical Potter score. Like o­ne other poster above, I too couldn’t help being reminded of Williams’ previous scores like Raiders of the Lost ArkSupermanJaws and The Lost World: Jurassic Park in some sections. I mean… WOWZA! Many cues in this soundtrack sound very much like a relaxing Celtic CD that you pick up from those New Age stores.

However, my o­nly concern is the absence of previously established themes from the first two films – there is no trace of anything from “Harry’s Wondrous World” anywhere here (sections of it were practically littered through the first two films and I assume that it contained the main theme for Harry and the trio, but I still can’t pick out which is which). Also curiously missing is the theme for Harry’s parents. Did he create a new theme for them with “A Window to the Past”? Whatever it is, it’s bloody breathtaking. It’s almost as though Williams went back and re-evaluated his entire style for this franchise. Perhaps he and the director thought those old themes wouldn’t suit the tone of this film.

Review by ‘Nimbus1944’

Wow. Harry Potter and the Composer Unbound.

Currently o­n my 3rd listening… but, it’s still early. (As o­ne of the few JW-HP filkers, I’m hunting new material; “A Window to the Past” and “Hagrid the Professor” look good for that purpose.)

“Double Trouble” reprises in 5 consecutive tracks (9-13), then during the time-turner bit, there’s the heartbeat/ticking in three in a row (17-19); jazz, medieval music, more percussion, more choral — all nice touches. Good to hear bits of “Hedwig’s Theme” and “Nimbus 2000”, but I have to agree that “Harry’s Wondrous World” is noticeable by its absence.

Review by ‘Fiery Angel’

Obviously everyone has their own opinions about this score but I find it to be outstanding. The level of writing and originality that Williams achieved with this score is o­ne of the biggest surprises I’ve had out of him of late. I mean, his level of writing is always way above anyone else working out there but I hadn’t expected to hear the variety and originality he achieved in this score. We’ve got whacked-out bebop jazz for “The Knight Bus”, ethereal chorus, a beautiful English folk tune inspired theme for “A Window to the Past” and some of the most aggressive percussion music I’ve ever heard from Williams. The percussionist must have had a lot of fun o­n this o­ne. Great rhythms too!

This score has given me a heightnened respect for Williams’ ability to continually expand his compositional palette. Well done Johnny!!!