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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

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Album Review

John Williams, when working within the realms of science fiction or fantasy, somehow manages to convey the same level of magic and whimsy inherent in Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. For the first two Harry Potter films he employed an instantly memorable theme augmented by a series of elegant yet uninspired action motifs that while effortless were, like the films themselves, merely adequate. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban finds the Oscar-winning composer swelled with a creative giddiness that hasn't been present for some time, resulting in a piece of work that's both fully realized and endlessly unpredictable. Beginning with the familiar celesta cue that launches each installment, Williams seems poised to deliver a solid reworking of the previous scores, but that sentiment is abruptly quelled by the jazzy, big-band one-two punch of "Aunt Margie's Waltz" and "The Knight Bus" — the latter borrows liberally from his outstanding Mancini-esque work on Catch Me If You Can. What follows is an intoxicating fusion of medieval-meets-Rossini-meets-Arvo Pärt mayhem that recalls his Close Encounters of the Third Kind heyday. Director Alfonso Cuaron's youthful enthusiasm has had an effect on Williams, and nowhere is that more apparent than on "Double Trouble," a devious choral piece cleverly built around the prose of Shakespeare's Macbeth and devilishly sung by the London Oratory School Schola Children's Choir. It's this melody, culled from bits and pieces of "Hedwig's Theme" from The Sorcerer's Stone, that permeates the entire score. Williams has a deep understanding of the orchestra, and his love of woodwinds is on glorious display throughout the work's entirety, but they never overplay — as was often the case in the previous two films — even the thunderous Kodo-style tympanis that introduce the Hypogriff "Buckbeak" are merely exclamation points announcing the arrival of one of the composer's most beautiful melodies. The Prisoner of Azkaban is thought by many to be the finest book in the series, and it would seem that both the director and the composer agree. Like Cuaron and Rowling, Williams meets his characters — children especially — on common ground, allowing them to laugh, suffer, fail, and succeed on their own terms. He may be the author and director's emotional conduit, but he's a master storyteller as well.

Customer Reviews

Best of All!

J.W. has done it again. The depth of this score, especially the ethereal and calm "A Window to the Past" and "Secrets of the Castle" look beyond and into the actual source. Many cues of this score predict the feelings of the Potter saga. It is by far, the best of the Harry Potter Film Scores, even the new one, Goblet of Fire (composed by Patrick Boyle). My favorite song in this is the short but Amazing "The Patronus Light"...One of J.W.s finest!

Double Trouble... Awesome

This is an awesome soundtrack. While watching Prisoner of Azkaban, the soundtrack (to me) plays such a larger part than the other two movie. "Double Trouble", and "The Knight Bus" are two of the great songs here, as is the old favorite "Hedwig's Theme", rennamed "Lumos!"

Eclectic Revision

Incorporating children's choirs, jazz, renaissance chamber music, and ballet-like tracks, this is one of the most eclectic film soundtracks you will ever hear. It's quite a change from the traditional sounding scores of the other two Harry Potter films, but it's change that I think will work for the story. Thankfully, all these styles do to come together to give a wider view of the Harry Potter universe. Fans of the former soundtracks will no-doubt enjoy this one as well and movie soundtrack afficianados will find much to marvel at. The subtle choir used in "The Potronus Light" reminds me of A.I. The mournful "A Window To The Past" utilizes recorders to great effect.


Born: February 8, 1932 in Flushing, NY

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The most popular film composer of the modern era, John Williams created music for some of the most successful motion pictures in Hollywood history -- Star Wars, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter are just four of the credits in his extensive oeuvre. Born February 8, 1932, in Floral Park, New York, he was the son of a movie studio musician, and he followed in his father's footsteps by studying music at UCLA and Juilliard; initially, he pursued a career as a jazz pianist, later...
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