Review by Elisabeth Vincentelli
Big news on the Harry Potter musical front: After scoring the first three installments in the series, John Williams has been replaced by Patrick Doyle. Still, Williams never feels far away. His main theme pops up here and there, and a track like “Voldemort,” which eloquently illustrates the soul of a blacker-than-black wizard with thunderous cymbal crashes, shrieking horns, tumultuous strings, and a stately finish, firmly belongs in the Williams mode. Overall, Doyle acquits himself well. He can do light when needed (“The Quidditch World Cup,” which starts out like some kind of jig), but mostly he’s required to be ominous (“The Quidditch World Cup,” which ends in martial war chants). Among the highlights are the aforementioned “Voldemort,” but also the frantic, overpowering “The Dark Mark.” Note that the CD concludes on a jarringly different note with three songs by the Weird Sisters, the group that performs at Hogwarts’ Yule Ball. Led by Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, the ad hoc band also includes members of Radiohead and Cocker’s side project Relaxed Muscle. “Do the Hippogriff” is a fast-paced rocker that somehow comes across like a grungy hybrid of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” and “Dancing with Myself.” The other two songs–“This Is the Night” and “Magic Works”–are less obvious, and much better. Still, the contrast between these tracks and the instrumental score that precedes them may not be to everybody’s taste.