Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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The sixth installment in the film franchise. Love is in the air, but tragedy lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same. The score features music by Nicholas Hooper, who took the reigns as composer during the last film, “Order Of The Phoenix”.

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3 Comments

David Cady

May 30, 2016 at 9:30 pm
16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
“Half-Blood Prince” a Full Bodied Score, July 14, 2009
By 
David Cady
(VINE VOICE)
  
(REAL NAME)
  

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This review is from: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Audio CD)

I can still remember hearing “Hedwig’s Theme” for the first time. It was opening day of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” eight years ago, and when the music came up under the film’s title card, I remember thinking “Thank goodness for John Williams.” The soundtrack he composed for that film (and its first two sequels) was perfection. With what seemed like alchemical magic, he captured in music the essence of what JK Rowling had created in words: a mysterious, whimsical world that set our imaginations soaring and immediately captured our hearts. As much as the film looked like what I imagined Rowling’s universe to look like, it sounded that way as well.

Williams opted not to score the fourth Harry Potter film, and things took a decided downturn. Patrick Doyle’s work for “Goblin of Fire” was, in my opinion, all atmosphere, with very little melody to it; and what melody there was – “Neville’s Waltz” for example – was simplistic and bland. Moreover, there was little about it that distinguished it as a “Harry Potter” score; the action music could have accompanied any number of fantasy films, and it lacked genuine wit.

The music (and much of the magic) returned to Hogwarts when Nicholas Hooper took over for the fifth film. Hooper’s melodic score for “Order of the Phoenix” was exciting, suspenseful, heart rending, playful, magical; in short, everything the film itself turned out to be. Now Hooper’s returned for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” and he’s come up with an even better soundtrack than his previous effort. A brief overview:

The score starts strongly, with a variation of “Hedwig’s Theme” that becomes darker and more dramatic as it progresses. (My guess is that it underscores the series of Muggle attacks with which the film opens.) A haunting choral piece follows, one that, according to Hooper, is not in the actual film, but was written for a certain character’s funeral. (No spoilers, here, although if you don’t know what I’m referring to, I’d be awfully surprised.)

“The Story Begins” is a track that seems to anticipate the listener’s eagerness for…well, the story to begin. It has movement and mystery to it, yet ends on a light, bright note (literally), which hints at the film’s emphasis on comedy and romance.

The track entitled “Ginny” is, unfortunately, a missed opportunity to my mind; why write another variation on “Hedwig’s Theme,” when Harry’s emerging love and longing for Ron’s sister warrants its own treatment?

More tense, apprehensive music follows with “Snape and the Unbreakable Vow,” followed by the infectious “Wizard Wheezes.” As you might expect, it’s brash, rambunctious, a little sly, and utterly delightful – much like the Weasley twins themselves.

The atmospheric tracks continue, all quite successful, although I’m curious as to why “Living Death” is so reminiscent of the “Professor Umbridge” track from Hooper’s “Order of the Phoenix” score. One can only imagine it’s intentional, and I’ll be interested to see how it fits into the actual film.

One of the smartest tracks is “The Slug Party,” with its 60s vibe and inspired use of percussion, particularly the bongo. It brings to mind nothing so much as the wild cocktail party in Blake Edwards’ “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and it’s a blast.

Hooper moves into full-blown action mode with “Into the Rushes,” a superb track that builds with intensity, followed by “Farewell Aragog,” a Scottish-sounding dirge that, as authentic as it is, could have benefited from some bagpipes. More dramatic scoring follows, broken up by the oddly contemplative “When Ginny Kissed Harry” and the melancholy “Slughorn’s Confession.” (The music here ideally matches the ruefulness and sorrow of the scene in the book.)

“Journey to the Cave” begins the inexorable slide towards the film’s tragic conclusion. (The track titles may give it away, but I never will!) Here Hooper expertly conveys, in ever more complex musical terms, the fear, anxiety, confusion, loss and despair of the story’s final scenes.

Things wind down with a forlorn goodbye that incorporates some of the material from the soundtrack’s opening, and a track entitled “The Friends,” which seems to foreshadow how important – and severely tested – friendship will be to the final two “Deathly Hallows” films. Finally, we get “The Weasley Stomp,” a bright celebratory piece that, logically, echoes back to the “Fireworks” track from “Order of the Phoenix.”

All in all, Hooper has done a marvelous job, writing what is very much a “Harry Potter” score, yet one that retains its own musical point of view.

That said, I still wish he (and Doyle before him) had taken a page from Williams’s book and thought on a slightly grander scale, particularly in his use of themes. In the “Chamber of Secrets” score alone, Williams produced significant musical…

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R S

May 30, 2016 at 10:13 pm
37 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
A functional Harry Potter score that’s lacking in emotional appeal, power, and memorability., July 14, 2009
By 
R S (USA) –

This review is from: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Audio CD)
The Harry Potter movie franchise has traditionally been graced by great film scores. First came John Williams, who scored the first three films masterfully and established a great number of themes, including the famous Hedwig’s Theme. Then came Patrick Doyle, who left behind most of Williams’ themes but retained his spirit and creative energy.

Enter Nicholas Hooper for Order of the Phoenix. Getting a Harry Potter film scoring assignment would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a middling composer like Hooper; even for Doyle it would have been a rare opportunity. Hooper, like Doyle, managed to retain most of Williams’ energy in his score for Order of the Phoenix.

Here, Hooper branches out a bit more and creates a kind of film score that is less thematic than William’s or Doyle’s, but more atmospheric. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of approach: a great film score from 2008, The Dark Knight, didn’t have many fully fledged-out themes either.

Unfortunately, the score for Half-Blood Prince not only has less thematic material than past Harry Potter scores, but it’s less memorable and less powerful as well. Listen to tracks like “Opening”, “The Story Begins”, “Harry and Hermione”, and “When Ginny Kissed Harry”. Tracks like those are almost entirely consumed by simple chord progressions that leave no lasting impression on the listener. They lack complexity and development, and so they often tread in the waters of–I hate to say it–boringness. I’m a composer myself, and I know that it probably took Hooper only about a couple of hours to write a cue like “Harry and Hermione”, which is inexcusably lazy on his part. I can’t see how Hooper listened to a cue like that and said to himself “Yes, I’m finished here. There’s nothing I could do to further perfect this track.” The cue is begging for more orchestration and development, and Hooper doesn’t deliver it. If you want an example of a good Harry Potter character theme, listen to “A Window to the Past” from Prisoner of Azkaban or “Harry in Winter” from Goblet of Fire, both of which leave far more powerful impressions.

Lack of memorability and emotional power are thus my main complaints about Hooper’s otherwise passable score for Half-Blood Prince. But there are a few stand-out tracks worth mentioning:

“Wizard Wheezes” is a jazzy cue that seems appropriate for the Weasley twins’ joke shop, and while it is quite simple, it’s memorable, and maybe even catchy. “Farewell Aragog” is appropriately played on a somber violin, and it seems to be a good match for the would-be-tragic scene in the movie when two drunken men mourn the death of a giant spider. “Malfoy’s Mission” is Hooper’s atmospheric writing at its best, and its the best “theme” on the album. It’s not memorable, but it’s decently chilling.

Again, Hooper has done okay work for Order of the Phoenix and now Half-Blood Prince, but one HAS to compare his work to that of Doyle and, especially, Williams. Those two masterfully handled their film scores, which is a compliment that I can’t bestow on Hooper. But Hooper has nevertheless once again produced a blockbuster film score that is considerably better than most others (I’m looking at you, Transformers 2), and that can be commended. I’m still hoping that Williams makes a surprise move and returns for Deathly Hallows, but if Hooper is again hired, it wouldn’t be so bad.

If Hooper is returning for Deathly Hallows , I hope he can produce a truly great film score (or 2 film scores, since Deathly Hallows is being split). I think the days might be gone where I can listen to a new Harry Potter soundtrack and be blown away, but I’ll be giddy if Hooper can prove me wrong.

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JRay

May 30, 2016 at 10:53 pm
13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
Missed Opportunities, July 15, 2009
By 
JRay (Wisconsin) –
(VINE VOICE)
  

Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Audio CD)
The music is good..of course..if you like soundtrack music…classical how can you not at least like it, BUT….so this soundtrack is good music, but the potential that was missed here is HUGE!! I believe that the soundtrack and movie was one big missed opportunity for those involved. This was what I would call a underachiever soundtrack. There was so much potential in the story line of the half blood prince. The goofiness of Lavender Brown and Ron romance….how could there have not been a original theme/love song for Ginny and Harry. What about Dumbledores death…what about Faux and the music for his song after Dumbledores death. There was SO much that could have been done with this soundtrack that wasn’t..sure it is good, but not what it could have or should have been. I also thought the soundtrack was much darker sounding that the film was…I thought the film was brighter and funnier than I thought it would be. Like I said..when I was watching the movie I don’t even ever remember hearing any of the music..it was more background than a partner bringing out the flavor and meaning.
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