Saturday, October 07, 2006

The ever-evolving music of Harry Potter

The first, second, and third Harry Potter soundtracks were composed by John Williams, and--while I liked them less and less--I was upset at the sudden switch to Patrick Doyle for The Goblet of Fire. Don't get me wrong, I actually thought that Doyle would do a much better job than Williams did (considering the poor result of the Azkaban score), but I'm not a big fan of changing mid-stream, if you know what I mean. Especially in an established franchise like Harry Potter. And if we let history speak, we'll find that changing the musical formula in the middle of a series is not always a wise idea, a la the switch from John Williams to Ken Thorne in Superman.

To Patrick's credit, he retained the flavor of Williams' music, and gave a little (okay a lot) more oomph to the action bits. Not surprisingly, Goblet did not have the musical sensationalism that we first heard in the Philosopher's Stone; particularly, the enchanting main theme (listen to mp3). However, I enjoyed more individual tracks in Goblet than I had in any of the previous scores. And the thumping action cues (eg: "The Quidditch World Cup" and "The Maze") were a welcome difference from the 3 earler scores, as well. As a small side-note, I must say that I dont usually enjoy John Williams action music outside of the science fiction genre (eg: and Star Wars and Jurassic Park). The critics seemed to agree that Doyle was a welcome addition to the series, and the soundtrack received an academy award nomination (losing to *blech* *groan& Brokeback Mountain). I also liked the score and put it second on my rankings for the series:

1. Philosopher's Stone (Williams)
2. Goblet of Fire (Doyle)
3. Chamber of Secrets (Williams)
4. Prisoner of Azkaban (Williams)

So I was pretty upset when I heard the news that new Director for the 5th Harry Potter film The Order of the Phoenix was bringing a new composer with him. A Brit by the name of Nicholas Hooper. He's had a hand in well over 200 musical enterprises, but even so, this is a monstrous project he's signed on to. Harry Potter has--up to this point--been garnished with nothing but the most intricate and creative music, and to see this Hooper-guy take the reigns is a little shaky for me, to say the least. While the change to Doyle on movie 4 sort of excited me when I first heard the news, this bit does the opposite. I predict his score will be a sizeable drop-off in quality from the previous four movies.

I hope I'm wrong. The one fortunate thing as that we will at least get the now-famous John Williams theme in the movie; it is a staple-mark in the series...as it should be.

The movie hits theatres nation-wide on July 13, 2007.

Little Known Fact: Composer Dario Marianelli (Pride and Prejudice) was at one time rumored to be the composer of "Phoenix;" but those whispers were quickly muffled.

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