I’ll be honest – I’m not a Harry Potter fan.
I read the first book and then couldn’t bear to go on. I watched the films and breathed a sigh of relief whenever one of the main three were not on screen – I’ve seen better acting in a nativity.
However the HP universe, like most things, has it’s redeeming feature. The music of John Williams.
I caught Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at the Royal Albert Hall, with a live score performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by Justin Freer, and I must say – it was an absolute delight.
I don’t believe there’s anyone in the English speaking world who doesn’t know Hedwig’s Theme, but the third instalment of the HP film 8-some provides even more music magic. Turns out good things do happen in threes, or at least on them.
Almost immediately after the film has started the orchestra get an eruption of applause after Aunt Marge’s Waltz, a choppy little tune with a big ending! Admittedly this is the first instalment of the Films in Concert series I’ve seen with applause anywhere but the interval and ending – normally it’s as silent as Melania Trump during an uncomfortable 35 seconds of intimacy with the Commander in Chief.
Double Trouble is, to me, an oddity for John Williams. It’s not often you see him write a piece with lyrics. But I have to say I think it’s one of the most charming pieces in the film – not too shabby for a bit o’ stuffy old Shakespeare. It seems I’m not alone in the appreciation of this piece as the person behind me excitedly nudges their friend to say, “Ooh, ooh! This is the frog bit I meant!”.
A little further on in the film, when Harry mounts the hippogriff, Buckbeak, there’s a stunning piece of music called Buckbeak’s Flight. Being a closet gamer, I think this piece sounds as though it’s been taken straight out of an epic open world RPG. That being said it also has a breath of Howard Shore‘s Lord of the Rings scores. (Is it blasphemous to mention LOTR in a Harry Potter article?).
As the drama of the film ramps up, as does the music as John Williams’s signature bass drums kick in for The Whomping Willow, and then don’t really going away for the rest of the film.
From here the score glides through the film effortlessly, complimenting the on screen adventure amazingly well (what else is to be expected from the world’s best renowned modern composer?). You have some lovely little pieces that lift your mood such as Hagrid the Professor and The Portrait Gallery, and then you have some angelic interludes with The Patronus Light and the Finale.
And if you’re sat at home and you’re thinking, “Yeah all sounds great but I cannot be arsed watching an entire film” then fear not! The final track on the score album, and the film’s final credits, happen to be a glorious mash up of the entire film’s music highlights in one handy little 12 minute package and is aptly named Mischief Managed.
Am I a Harry Potter convert? Maybe not, but I could listen to the music all day and surely that’s something.
The Royal Albert Hall Films in Concert 2018 series continues into winter with Star Wars: A New Hope and Home Alone. Find out more here.