Review by Jeff Shannon
You needn’t see the film of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to appreciate the wonder, magic, and fearful chills of J.K. Rowling’s phenomenal bestseller in John Williams’s outstanding score. Williams typically avoids the source material for the films he scores, but he reportedly derived great pleasure and inspiration from Rowling’s first Harry Potter adventure, and created a perfect motif (fully expressed in “Hedwig’s Theme”) to dominate his score. It’s first heard as a dreamy celesta waltz and embellished through myriad incarnations and moods, often with a sinister edge befitting the darker tones of Chris Columbus’s direction. Evident are fantastical allusions to Saint-Saëns and Tchaikovsky (among others), and Williams’s epic track is “Quidditch Match,” a breathtaking frenzy to accompany the film’s dazzling highlight. And while Williams occasionally flirts with self-plagiarism (with inevitable variants of his Hook and Star Wars themes), this is nevertheless a richly regal score that brilliantly evokes the mystery and magic of Harry Potter’s world.