Patrick Doyle,
Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire
(Warner Bros., 2005)

I have to believe that it would be a daunting task to take up a baton laid down by John Williams; nonetheless, that is precisely what Patrick Doyle has done in taking on this latest installment of the Hogwarts saga. His bona fides are certainly in order; Doyle has more than proven his chops in earlier film music projects. His inheritance of Williams' themes must have been a challenge, but Doyle was equal to the task at hand.

The opening "Story Continues" is the standard overture, to musically reassure the viewer that they've not wandered into the wrong part of the multiplex by mistake. Doyle follows immediately with the darker brass clash of "Frank Dies," underscoring the idea that young master Potter and friends are headed to a Darker Place this outing. Doyle first asserts himself in "Quiddich World Cup," a reel driven by booming percussion and skirling strings, and really stretches out a little further along in "Goblet of Fire," a rangy piece that yields to the listener by turns brassy bombast and a nuanced sotto voce of barely contained menace. Immediately on the heels of this symphonette is the skittery "Rita Skeeter," perfectly capturing the flighty reporter in music.

Following the sprawling "Golden Egg" is the stately, old-school "Neville's Waltz," a nice evocation of the old English upper crust, and this is in turn followed by Doyle's strongest offering in this set, a new, poignant theme that frames "Harry in Winter." This quiet reflection gives way to the more ominous "Underwater Secrets" (which features a lovely vocal by Abigail Doyle). After the discordant bombast of "Black Lake," Doyle rediscovers his veddy British voice in the trumpet voluntary of "Hogwarts March." Sadly, he cannot solve the enigma of "Voldemort," which is by turns dark, creepy and overwrought, but gains a better musical moment in the elegaic "Death of Cedric" and closes the set strongly with the musical evocation of crossroads that is "Another Year Ends."

Attached to the end of the CD is a three-song set of tunes offered by the "house band" at the Hogwarts ball. These offerings range from "Do the Hippogriff," a bit of inspired Billy Idol meets Ozzy noise, to the angsty teen ballad "This is the Night" and, the best of the bunch, the love ballad for Hermoine, "Magic Works." The tunes are included for commercial purposes, but are not to be laid to Doyle's account. Here then is the mixed offering that is the Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire soundtrack; like the movie itself, it's possessed of lesser moments, but likewise moments of true creative fire. Those who appreciate Doyle's work should add this to their collections. (Potter fans certainly require no further admonitions from this quarter.)

by Gilbert Head
17 June 2006

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