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John Williams

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone [Original Soundtrack]

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As a fan of J.K. Rowling's massively popular Harry Potter books and the composer of some of the best fantasy/sci-fi film scores, John Williams was a natural choice to write the music for Chris Columbus' film adaptation of -Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. His score captures the childhood mischief, magic, and adventure of the film and the books, mixing winding, soaring melodies with instrumentation that spans the delicately spooky to the darkly majestic. However, his work here won't necessarily dispel Williams' reputation as an occasionally light-fingered composer: one of the score's main motifs, a light-as-a-cobweb celesta melody most clearly stated in "The Arrival of Baby Harry" and "Hedwig's Theme," recalls the work of both Danny Elfman and Tchaikovsky, while some of the other melodies sound like they're just a few notes away from themes in his own Hook and Star Wars scores. Harry Potter's score also tends to repeat these main themes a little too often; fortunately they're reinterpreted fairly creatively from piece to piece. "Harry's Wondrous World" and "Visit to the Zoo and Letters from Hogwarts" are sweeping and lighthearted, while "In the Devil's Snare and the Flying Keys," "The Chess Game," and "The Face of Voldemort" close the score with a trio of menacing, climactic musical cues. In between are pretty, delicate moments like "Fluffy's Harp" and whimsical pieces like "Christmas at Hogwarts," which manages to combine the festive, carol-esque melody with the atmosphere of a school for witches and wizards. The pomp and circumstance of "The Quidditch Match" is probably the score's most typically Williams composition; a thrilling mix of his heroic style and the rest of the music's spooky, supernatural feel. Not surprisingly, considering that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone runs nearly three hours long, Williams' score is on the long side, making it somewhat difficult to take in outside of the film's context. While it may not be one of his most inspired works, it's never less than perfectly appropriate and does include some brilliant moments. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi

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