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Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets - Soundtrack

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Genre: Soundtrack / Artist: Various / Soundtrack / Audio CD released 2002-11-11 at Wea

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      19.02.2008 21:00
      Very helpful



      BONG! Now you are a pathetic drunk.

      With the marketing machine now in full swing with the Harry Potter phenomenon following the first movie adaptation, the second film in the series, The Chamber of Secrets, came immediately the next year. Once more directed by Chris Columbus and including much of the same crew as the previous film, the sequel is the most direct followup to the movie franchise that was to see many shifting directors handle the projects following Chamber of Secrets. With the original film being more like an introductory prologue, Chamber of Secrets goes on to expand on the magical world Harry Potter now finds himself a part of and strives to further expand the characters and the various cumulating secrets and mysteries that are to be made more of in later installments. But this still being pretty much the beginning of the series, the film doesn't really get up to the bigger issues of the story yet, despite the increase in the presence of the evil Lord Voldemort and his attempts at getting back in the driver's seat. As much as stays the same with the film's production details, so does the involvement of composer John Williams to about the same extent. Williams' score for the original feature was decidedly a decent effort, but hopelessly derivatory of his past scores that is not something this composer is particularly known for, or at least to this extent. So one could reasonably expect Williams to step up his game come the sequel effort, but unfortunately this is not something that was to happen.

      Much of the same elements that made the first film's musical landscape again find their way to the second film's score. The most obvious piece here is Hedwig's Theme that once again opens the film with its familiar celesta twinkles, but interestingly doesn't really reappear in this guise for the rest of the album. The theme is referenced here and there, but the celesta remains largely silent after the opening "Prologue". Likewise other familiar themes appear in similarly referenced form, but never do we really get many extended passages containing the older themes, making the score feel a bit less focused in its thematic usage. Of these references, the most powerful must be the heavy choral and brass performance of the Hogwarts' Theme (same as Hegwig's theme) when the school first comes in sight in the cue "The Flying Car", while most of the other references tend to remain slighter in weight, as in "Knockturn Alley" where all old themes get a small apparance along with the medieval sounding woodwind theme heard in the first film's "Diagon Alley" cue, or the Nimbus 2000 theme used as a silly potion dance in "Polyjuice Potion". The theme that rises in prominence here, however, is the one for Voldemort, that was only referenced a few times in the original film. This menacing three/four-note identity for the shadowed evil presence gets more pronounced appearances here, particularly in the cue "Meeting Tom Riddle", a very dark and foreboding cue of considerable power and makes for one of the highlights of the score.

      Of the newer themes, Williams again presents a host of additions to the existing ones. The most notable of these is the theme for Dumbledore's pet, heard in the concert arrangement of "Fawkes the Phoenix" and it is undeniably a very beautiful and lyrical theme that gets some increasingly magnificent appearances in the cue "Fawkes is Reborn". It is perhaps not one of Williams' most classic themes ever, but it really does shine with a lot more of that magical feel that many of the other themes are lacking. The dark "The Chamber of Secrets" theme on the other hand is one of those themes that are hard to really notice all that much, the sense of it remaining pretty much like a tone for the film than a theme of simple quotation, essentially being the identity of Tom Riddle and makes only scant appearances in the score. The rest of the themes are by and large of lesser importance. The theme for "Gilderoy Lockhart" has strong baroque undertones to it, complete with a harpsichord in the background, while the main music is actually pretty much identical to the "No Tickets" cue of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The music for "Moaning Myrtle" is decidedly fairly standardised ghost music with its floating woodwinds, string flourishes and ethereal female vocals. The theme for "Dobby the House Elf" is whimsical and filled with small instrumental flourishes topped with a more lyrical, if pretty forgettable, melody. For "Introducing Colin" we get another of those pretty, but insubstantial little ditties that soon slips out of the mind. And of course, "Cakes for Crabbe and Goyle" is underlined by the most obvious use of the tuba, an instrument synonymous for Williams when depicting morons, all pretty unimaginative.

      Essentially, the same criticisms that I had for the first score apply here in equal force. There's just nothing really that interesting in the score that I have not heard from Williams so many times before and in better representations. Some of the new themes (notably Fawkes' theme and Tom Riddle's theme) are a step into a more interesting direction, but much of the music exists in the environment of stock Williams sound design that translates to orchestrations and rhythms that spell "uninspired" all over it. The score does feature a few action music cues too, like "The Flying Car", "The Dueling Club", "The Spiders" and "Cornish Pixies", but all remain somewhat dispensible of being leftovers of the newer Star Wars scores or a bunch of other classic Williams scores like Hook and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In fact, the only cue outside of "Meeting Tom Riddle" and "Fawkes is Reborn" that struck me as remotely more interesting was the penultimate "Dueling the Basilisk" cue, a hugely exciting cue where Williams is reaching for the epic heights of his earlier Star Wars finales, complete with choir and some kick ass orchestral attacks. But outside of this, the score impresses less than the first one, with the finale "Reunion of Friends" again being a triumphalist "we made it again" type of happy emotionalist cue, while everything is capped off by a total re-performance of "Harry's Wondrous World" concert suite from the first score, with nothing additional to it.

      But when talking of the Chamber of Secrets score, it is good to bare in mind that in 2002 Williams was at the same time composing music for the Episode II Star Wars film and Minority Report, causing him to essentially give the Harry Potter series the shaft and had his long time associate William Ross do "adaptations" of his older themes and conduct the score with the London Symphony Orchestra and London Voices. Exactly how much Ross actually contributed to the music is impossible to tell, but it comes some way to explain why The Chamber of Secrets fails to make that much of an impression. However, that is again not to say the score is terrible and it indeed has its moments, only those moments don't really conjure a real sense of wonder, awe and gravitas to the film itself, making most of this sound so stock John Williams with little to deviate from his usage of a standard symphony orchestra and little to create a unique atmosphere that the score just ends up sounding souless and disgustingly "commercial", as if Williams is just going through the motions with little other conviction than getting his paycheck at the end of the day. The music is still very enjoyable, yes, but generally so unexciting that everything seems to mellow down to such fluffiness as to make the score fitting as underscore while watching bunnies have sex, but not really as a dramatic utterance. It may very well again be the Chris Columbus equation that comes in between this mode of thinking, but to what extent it's not easy to say. Still, despite its flaws, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a decent score and an enjoyable one like its predecessor. It just isn't a classic and it never will be.

      1. Prologue: Book II and The Escape from the Dursleys (3:31)
      2. Fawkes the Phoenix (3:45)
      3. The Chamber of Secrets (3:49)
      4. Gilderoy Lockhart (2:05)
      5. The Flying Car (4:08)
      6. Knockturn Alley (1:47)
      7. Introducing Colin (1:49)
      8. The Dueling Club (4:08)
      9. Dobby the House Elf (3:27)
      10. The Spiders (4:32)
      11. Moaning Myrtle (2:05)
      12. Meeting Aragog (3:18)
      13. Fawkes is Reborn (3:19)
      14. Meeting Tom Riddle (3:38)
      15. Cornish Pixies (2:13)
      16. Polyjuice Potion (3:52)
      17. Cakes for Crabbe and Goyle (3:30)
      18. Dueling the Basilisk (5:02)
      19. Reunion of Friends (5:08)
      20. Harry's Wondrous World (5:02)

      Music Composed by John Williams
      Performed by The London Symphony Orchestra & London Voices
      Adapted and Conducted by William Ross
      Chorus Director: Terry Edwards
      Celeste Solos by Randy Kerber
      Music Recorded and Mixed by Simon Rhodes
      Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London
      Supervising Music Editor: Peter Myles
      Music Editor: Jim Harrison
      Atlantic/Nonesuch/Warner, 2002 (CD 83574)

      © berlioz, 2008


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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Prologue : Book II and the Escape from The Dursley's
      2 Fawkes The Phoenix
      3 The Chamber Of Secrets
      4 Gilderoy Lockhart
      5 The Flying Car
      6 Knockturn Alley
      7 Introducing Colin
      8 The Dueling Club
      9 Dobby The House Elf
      10 The Spiders
      11 Moaning Myrtle
      12 Meeting Aragog
      13 Fawkes Is Reborn
      14 Meeting Tom Riddle
      15 Cornish Pixies
      16 Polyjuice Potion
      17 Cakes For Crabbe And Goyle
      18 Dueling The Basilisk
      19 Reunion Of Friends
      20 Harry's Wondrous World

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