Potter soundtrack will enchant you

Ted Pigeon

One year ago, the film adaptation of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” stormed into multiplexes and swept the country, shattering box office records in the process. One of the major contributions to the film that had many people talking was the thematically rich and delightful music by world famous composer John Williams. The soundtrack album featured more than 70 minutes of the film’s score and sold extremely well. It was on the Billboard music charts for quite some time, a rare feat for a film score. For the second film in the series, entitled “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” Williams has returned yet again to provide the score for the film. He returned despite his busy schedule this year, which included providing music for two Steven Spielberg-directed movies: “Minority Report,” and the upcoming “Catch Me If You Can,” as well as George Lucas’ “Star Wars: Episode II.” But it’s clear that the hectic schedule hasn’t fazed Williams: his music for “Harry Potter” is simply beautiful, plunging listeners yet again into a world full of adventure, imagination, and magic.

The soundtrack album for “The Sorcerer’s Stone” makes heavy use of the now-famous piece of music, called “Hedwig’s Theme.” The score is in essence constructed around this theme. Another main theme introduced is “Harry’s Theme,” a poignant string-oboe shared tune that isn’t used as much as “Hedwig’s Theme” but makes itself known. For this film, Williams has incorporates these themes, building on Harry’s theme immensely and subtly hinting rerferences to the Hedwig theme, like he did with Luke’s theme in his score to “The Empire Strikes Back.” To add to the mix, he has composed several new themes for which the rest of the score is built from, and entwines them beautifully with the old themes.

The first new theme, entitled “Fawkes, the Phoenix,” is a wonderful piece that starts off slow and intimate, played primarily by strings, and evolves into a downright sweeping melody that makes use of the entire orchestra where the brass and strings sections are playing in perfect unison. This is the kind of music that will undoubtedly send chill down your spine: bold, glorious, majestic, and just pure magic.

The second major theme Williams composed for this film is the “Chamber of Secrets Theme,” which is just as powerful as “Fawkes the Phoenix,” but is structurally almost the exact opposite. It is a menacing theme, with many dark undertones, and features some vigorous, forceful brass and crashing symbols galore. Like “Fawkes’ Theme,” this piece will probably send chills down your spine, but in a very different way.

These themes, as well as some others, including one for Dobby the House Elf and Gilderoy Lockhart, are the foundation for the rest of the score. Williams took these new and old themes and constructed a fabulous score that is both thematically loyal and rich in underscore. The London Symphony Orchestra, arguably the greatest orchestra in the world today, performed the music under the direction of William Ross. Because Williams was hard at work on Spielberg’s next movie, Ross was hired to adapt several of Williams’ themes as well as conduct the score.

The final two tracks of the film’s score round off the music into a memorable, exhilarating and ultimately emotional high point, making this album one of the most genuinely satisfying listening experiences. “Dueling the Basilisk” is the final action cue on the album; it is simply a remarkable piece of music that features furious brass, strings and a huge chorus. After that track, the next and final piece in the score, “The Reunion of Friends,” is an emotionally-charged piece with a stunning finale that will likely send your spirits soaring.

In the end, the score for “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” is an excellent piece of stand-alone music that can either transport you into the world of “Harry Potter,” if you’re a fan, or it can “liberate your imagination and give you the freedom to dream,” says director Chris Columbus. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

To sum up this album in closing, all I can say is this: John Williams has done it again!