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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Album Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:

Co-Orchestrated and Co-Produced by:
Conrad Pope

Co-Orchestrated by:
Clifford Tasner
Jean-Pascal Beintus
Bill Newlin

Co-Produced by:
Peter Cobbin
Gerard McCann

Performed by:
The London Symphony Orchestra

London Voices

Solo Vocals by:
Mai Fujisawa
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WaterTower Music
(July 12th, 2011)
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Regular U.S. release.
Nominated for a Grammy Award.
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Decorative Nonsense
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you seek two satisfying developments in this final franchise score: the wholesale return of previous thematic identities and a narrative arc and general tone from Alexandre Desplat that finally achieves a level of epic majesty not heard from the composer before.

Avoid it... if somewhat lazy adaptations of themes by John Williams and Nicholas Hooper that don't integrate well with Desplat's original material defy all of the otherwise well-meaning efforts by the composer to bring the franchise to a satisfying close.
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WRITTEN 7/24/11
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2: (Alexandre Desplat) After ten years and billions of dollars, the franchise of "Harry Potter" films finally concludes in 2011 with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Produced in conjunction with the adaptation of the first half of J. K. Rowling's final book, the cinematic climax of the concept returns most of the characters from throughout the history of the "Harry Potter" universe for a decisive battle of magic at Hogwarts castle. As the trio of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger seek out and destroy the final vestiges of Lord Voldemort, the school itself becomes a battleground with the future of the magical world on the line. Reception to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 has eclipsed that of the previous films, both critically and popularly. Almost universal praise from reviewers matches the enthusiasm of fans who shattered several box office records in the process of rewarding the film with upwards of a billion dollars in grosses within its first two weeks of release. It's satisfying to see the most prolific franchise of the 2000's end on such a high note, director David Yates deserving accolades for his pacing, loyalty to characters, and balance of emotional drama and dazzling special effects. For several years, composer John Williams had made it known that he would be interested in returning to the franchise for its final entry. Williams' scores for the first three films gained two Oscar nominations and introduced the franchise's most iconic thematic identities. Due to scheduling conflicts, however, the maestro was unable to accept a part in the production of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, and thus the logical choice was to retain French composer Alexandre Desplat to continue the musical direction he had set in the previous film. Despite concerns from skeptical fans about Desplat's intentions with the franchise, he has revealed himself to be an enormous enthusiast of Williams' original soundtracks for the "Harry Potter" movies, eagerly purchasing them on album for his own collection when they debuted. He has repeatedly referred to Williams as a "genius" and has praised the composer's themes from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for their intricacy and intangible sense of magic.

Desplat initially indicated before finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 that he wanted to make the famous Hedwig's Theme by Williams, the primary, two-part identity of the franchise, a frequent contributor to his sequel work. He has since admitted that the subject matter of that film did not allow him to fully adapt that material as he would have liked. With the story returning to Hogwarts in the final film, however, he has made Williams' music a frequent part of the narrative. The challenge that this attention to adaptation presents is in the cohesive flow of new material offered by Desplat to the franchise. Clearly, the composer's stylistic stamp was all over Deathly Hallows, Part 1, to the great joy of his collectors. His knack for writing complex rhythmic lines of action and layering them to form interesting textures is the primary reason for his quick rise to popularity in the late 2000's. But the development and maintenance of a solid musical narrative is an aspect lacking in Deathly Hallows, Part 1, its impressive individual pieces collectively forming a somewhat aimless arc when viewed in sum. For Deathly Hallows, Part 2, he admits to being more comfortable with the concept (and his crew), and his music makes an intriguing switch, losing some of the symphonic intricacies in an effort to bolster the thematic integrity of the final chapter. There are still moments of outstanding Desplat complexity in the writing of some of the action material, but expect to hear less of the composer's usual mannerisms. The pulsating synthetic bass effect is completely gone, for instance, and whereas he often tends to use rhythmic woodwind patterns in the place of percussion, he emphasizes brute force from the drum section this time. Additionally, the international flavor in his orchestral palate from the prior film is toned back and replaced with more conventional choral muscularity. On the other hand, the nebulous thematic core of Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is a problem rectified to a large degree in Desplat's second entry. He writes one new dominant character theme and a powerful secondary idea, weaving them into most of his already existing motifs in ways that should satisfy most listeners. The application of Williams' two parts of Hedwig's Theme into several scenes serves to solidify the thematic narrative even further, regardless of the sometimes awkward insertions of that material into the final edit.

Reviewing the score for Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is an unusual challenge because of an immensely insufficient presentation of the soundtrack on the WaterTower/Warner commercial album that accompanied the debut of the movie. That product, while containing excerpts of John Williams' themes in seven of its tracks, is missing all of the most major statements of that material as heard in the film, as well as the surprising but delightful inclusion of Nicholas Hooper's music, too. Leaked cue sheet information for Deathly Hallows, Part 2 suggests that these full statements of Williams and Hooper material were likely recorded after the fact (the latter's perhaps simply tracked in its original form). As such, the 68-minute album for this soundtrack is essentially a presentation of Desplat's own material. With this in mind, any review of the album alone would woefully misrepresent the soundtrack as a whole, and the commentary that follows is therefore based upon the score as heard in the film (with references to the album along the way). The album's cues are mostly chronological, with the exception of "Gringotts" and early portions of "Snape's Demise," and it seems possible that passages of Desplat's material were tracked for multiple placements. The movie opens with Desplat's primary thematic representation for it. Almost alone in the mix for 90 seconds is "Lily's Theme," a lovely Celtic-flavored theme performed first by gorgeous solo female vocals and then somber string layers. While it would have been nice to hear some kind of reference to Williams' main theme during the stark revelation of the title, Desplat's new theme appropriately sets a mood of despair for the equally depressing images on screen. A series of cues missing from the original album follows, starting with a celesta statement of the "A" phrase of Hedwig's Theme (a common usage in this film) before reprising the rhythmic base of "Obliviate" in the conversational scene involving Griphook the Goblin (the cue sheet list refers to this as "Goblin by the Sea"). In the subsequent conversation in "Olivander," Desplat appropriately references his "The Deathly Hallows" theme from Deathly Hallows, Part 1 before toning back the ambience for generic suspense purposes in "Outside Gringotts." The "Gringotts" cue follows in the film despite being placed three tracks later on the album. Given that the suspense of that location is often accompanied by only the sounds of the Goblins shuffling their papers, it's no surprise that this cue is very understated, with activity centered around solitary a string note on key.

The action in Deathly Hallows, Part 2 picks up with the subsequent tunnel, vault, chase, and flight sequences. While there has been some fan dismay about the lack of identical statements of the Death Eater/villain theme from "Snape to Malfoy Manor" in the previous film, Desplat does utilize a variation of it in "The Tunnel." Likewise, the agitated string ostinato from "Obliviate" returns in "Underworld," and Desplat clarifies the application of his Horcrux theme from Deathly Hallows, Part 1 ("Dobby" and "The Locket") as the lead wizards enter the vault to seek the cup they must destroy (heard at 2:10 on the album's track). The flurry of activity in the second half of "Underworld," as the vault becomes a cramped place to be, is very reminiscent of Williams' style. Another statement of the aforementioned villain's theme closes out the cue with a reference on brass. The memorable "Dragon Flight" follows, though the cue was condensed and rearranged for its album presentation. In the midst of impressive action motifs, the Hedwig "A" phrase at 0:50 reminds of the adventure of yesteryear before Lily's theme is afforded its fullest symphonic performances of the score. While this cue is extremely enjoyable, Desplat's choice of that theme for this circumstance doesn't entirely make sense, and instead of the Hedwig Theme, it would have been nice to hear a quick flourish of Williams' flying theme (or hints of the resounding Buckbeak theme) in that circumstance. At the very least, however, it reaffirms Lily's theme as the main identity of this picture. The Hogsmeade sequence leading up to and including the scene with Dumbledore's brother is provided a general tone of ambient suspense; the cue sheet list indicates that perhaps a reference to Williams' Chamber of Secrets occurs here, but if so, it isn't readily apparent, and the cue is unreleased. A lighter tone breaks through the ominous atmosphere in "Neville," a troubled crescendo revealing the friend and allowing Desplat to repeat a statement of the noble children's theme from Deathly Hallows, Part 1. In this second Desplat score, the theme solidifies itself around Neville alone, frequently heard in his somewhat humorous but ultimately heroic scenes. Don't expect to hear the same music on the album's "Neville" track as what you noticed in the film; the two performances are similar but exist in separate keys. This disparity may be connected to the fact that the cue segues into a full statement of the Hedwig "B" theme (representing the castle and, for Williams, the franchise as a whole) for Potter's return to the castle and revelation to his loyal fellow students.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.34 Stars
***** 437 5 Stars
**** 471 4 Stars
*** 427 3 Stars
** 257 2 Stars
* 233 1 Stars
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Please get your themes right!
Vincent - August 28, 2015, at 4:31 a.m.
1 comment  (52 views)
Alternative review at
Southall - August 12, 2013, at 3:13 a.m.
1 comment  (542 views)
Hooper cue
blah - February 24, 2013, at 4:14 p.m.
1 comment  (591 views)
Complete Score
Drew C. - July 15, 2012, at 10:39 a.m.
1 comment  (819 views)
Holy crap, it's awesome!
Richard Kleiner - January 28, 2012, at 2:03 a.m.
1 comment  (931 views)
Fitting End to Potter Saga
Jouko Yli-Kiikka - December 11, 2011, at 11:15 a.m.
1 comment  (807 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 68:09
• 1. Lily's Theme (2:28)
• 2. The Tunnel (1:09)
• 3. Underworld (5:24)
• 4. Gringotts (2:24)
• 5. Dragon Flight (1:43)
• 6. Neville (1:40)
• 7. A New Headmaster (3:25)
• 8. Panic Inside Hogwarts (1:53)
• 9. Statues (2:22)
• 10. The Grey Lady (5:51)
• 11. In the Chamber of Secrets (1:37)
• 12. Battlefield (2:13)
• 13. The Diadem (3:08)
• 14. Broomsticks and Fire (1:24)
• 15. Courtyard Apocalypse (2:00)
• 16. Snape's Demise (2:51)
• 17. Severus and Lily (6:08)
• 18. Harry's Sacrifice (1:57)
• 19. The Resurrection Stone (4:32)
• 20. Harry Surrenders (1:30)
• 21. Procession (2:07)
• 22. Neville the Hero (2:17)
• 23. Showdown (3:37)
• 24. Voldemort's End (2:44)
• 25. A New Beginning (1:39)

Notes Icon
The insert includes a note from the director about the score and composer, as well as an insert card with information about downloading ringtones and other related products. The enhanced portion of the CD redirects to a Warner website where additional features can be accessed, including footage from the recording sessions and links to the score in 5.1 surround sound.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 are Copyright © 2011, WaterTower Music and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/24/11 (and not updated significantly since).
With all the screen time Warwick Davis gets in this picture, it's a shame that the script didn't allow someone to refer to him as a "peck."
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