Album Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2004)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third movie in the Harry Potter series. The movie, based on the book by J.K. Rowling, follows Harry during his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as he faces the mysterious wizard Sirius Black and the frightening Dementors. The third movie (directed by Alfonso Cuaron) proved to be darker than the two before it, though the film’s composer John Williams (E.T., Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, Raiders of the Lost Ark, etc.) rose to the task and proved yet another fantastic score.

The album and movie open with Lumos! Hedwig’s Theme, the theme now synonymous with the Harry Potter films. A whimsical set of chimes, strings and piano set off an adventurous, and certainly magical, theme for the movie. Next up is the fast-paced Aunt Marge’s Waltz. The music seems to be just as large and boisterous as Harry’s Aunt Marge is; filled with cellos and violins, the song is fun and light and ends with a stunning finale. The Knight Bus (which is a magical double-decker bus just for wizards) is another fun and jazzy track. Horns and other loud instruments recreate Harry’s crazy ride on the bus.

Double Trouble features the London Orator School Schola choir (or the Hogwarts’ choir). According to the CD booklet, Williams produced the song during the making of the film after a suggestion by Cuaron. The song borrows a few elements from Hedwig’s Theme, and uses words from Shakespeare’s Macbeth (“Double double/toil and trouble/fire burn/and cauldron bubble”) to create an appropriately haunting welcome to Hogwarts.

Buckbeak’s Flight is easily one of my favorite pieces in the soundtrack. Buckbeak is a magical beast that can fly, and during this scene in the movie, Harry takes off on him and they fly around the campus (I actually hate this scene in the movie. It looks just like the flying scene in The Neverending Story!). The song starts off with loud drum beats, and then subsides into a truly beautiful composition of soaring violin notes and flutes. The music stets off an adventurous and yet again, magical, mood and you’ll feel as though you’re flying along with Harry and Buckbeak as you listen to the song. Another favorite is A Window To The Past, a quiet piece (which is played while Harry wonders about the mystery of his parent’s deaths). A sad sounding flute is highlighted during most of the song, and then more Irish flutes are played, giving the song a beautiful sound.
The pace picks back up with The Whomping Willow And The Snowball Fight, another loud and jumpy track. Drums and frantic violin give way to a fun and fast paced track. Secrets Of The Castle borrows some of the themes from Double Trouble (which, as I noted earlier, borrows themes from Hedwig’s Theme), and turns into a soothing lullaby. As the song comes to the end, the orchestration picks up pace and the flute and violin sound beautiful together.

Quidditch, Third Year starts off quietly enough, before the orchestra joins in, creating a hectic cacophony of violin, piano, drums and horns. The music creates the perfect background for Harry’s frightening flight in the sky (he is attacked by a Dementor during the Quidditch match), and about halfway through, the eerie vocals of the Dementors are highlighted, giving the song a truly frightening feeling. The ominous theme continues with Lupin’s Transformation And Chasing Scabbers. The song begins quietly, using piano and strings to set a soft mood. Later on, the violin is used to make it seem as though someone really is being chased, and the heavy drum continues the sense of foreboding.

The Patronus Light is simply beautiful. The London Voices sound like a heavenly choir with the light orchestration that surrounds them. Their vocalizing seems a bit creepy at first, but the piece soon melds into a stunning track. The Werewolf Scene is a perfect score for a scene with a werewolf; plenty of loud drums and horns accompanied by piercing violin, which creates a fearful and panicky feeling.

Forward To The Time Past begins with a clock ticking, and fades into chimes, before strings are added. The clock continues to tick throughout the song (to signify the time travel elements) continues to be loud and exciting before ending on a quiet and subdued note. Finale marks the return of the haunting London Voices choir, whose eerie harmonies once again provide the voices of the Dementors. The violin is sharp and piercing, and pieced with the choir and the themes from A Window To The Past and The Patronus Light create another glorious song.

The album comes to a close with Mischief Managed!, a track over 12 minutes long. The song uses themes from all of the songs in the movie, including Lumos! Hedwig’s Theme, Aunt Marge’s Waltz,Double Trouble, and Buckbeak’s Flight. The song gives a great example of the wonderful musicians used to create the orchestra, as well as William’s skill to weave a masterful classical piece. The whimsical violin and flute note blend well with the magical theme of the movie, and the track provides a perfect ending to a wonderful soundtrack.

It also should be noted that the soundtrack is an ECD (Enhanced CD). When I popped the disc into my laptop, a menu came up offering a screen saver and a desktop background made of stills from the movie. A large and nice selection of pictures from the movie is also added in the gallery, and the enhanced portion of the CD is a nice addition.

The Prisoner Of Azkaban soundtrack is a perfect score for the movie. Filled with dark tracks to accompany the deeper scenes, and fanciful pieces to accompany the lighter scenes, Williams has done an amazing job of creating an amazing soundtrack to a wonderful film.

Rating: 5_stars.svg

Track Listing
1. Lumos! (Hedwig’s Theme)
2. Aunt Marge’s Waltz
3. The Night Bus
4. Apparition On The Train
5. Double Trouble
6. Buckbeat’s Flight
7. A Window To The Past
8. The Whomping Willow And The Snowball Fight
9. Secrets Of The Castle
10. The Portrait Gallery
11. Hagrid The Professor
12. Monster Books And Boggarts!
13. Quidditch, Third Year
14. Lupin’s Transformation And Chasing Scabbers
15. The Patronus Light
16. The Werewolf Scene
17. Saving Buckbeak
18. Forward To Time Past
19. The Dementor’s Converge
20. Finale
21. Mischief Managed!

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