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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Composed and Produced by:
Nicholas Hooper

Conducted by:
Alastair King

Orchestrated by:
Geoff Alexander
Julian Kershaw
Bradely Miles
Simon Whiteside

Warner Brothers Records

Release Date:
July 10th, 2007

Also See:
HP: Sorcerer's Stone
HP: Chamber of Secrets
HP: Prisoner of Azkaban
HP: Goblet of Fire

Audio Clips:
1. Fireworks (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

2. Professor Umbridge (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

12. The Death of Sirius (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

17. Flight of the Order of the Phoenix (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

Regular U.S. release.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
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Buy it... if you seek a distinctly fresh, instrumentally diverse, and surprisingly flightier approach to the Harry Potter franchise's music.

Avoid it... if you expect any significant continuity from the style and themes of John Williams' scores or the weighty orchestral power of Patrick Doyle's entry.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: (Nicholas Hooper) Franchises offer a maddening set of circumstances for both movie-goers and film music collectors, not to mention the crews that strive to meet their expectations. For film music fans specifically, the Harry Potter films took a beloved series of books and established their sound with the talents of none other than John Williams, the greatest composer of the past thirty years of cinema. For any follow-up composer, the task of meeting expectations in a situation like this has to be daunting. Exciting, but still daunting. After John Williams' Oscar nominated scores for the first and third films, bracketing an adaptation effort by William Ross for The Chamber of Secrets, Scottish composer Patrick Doyle provided a worthy effort for The Goblet of Fire in 2005. As predicted by most, Doyle was criticized for taking the sound of the series away from Williams' familiar tones (and the majority of his themes) and infusing the film with mostly a darker variant of his own compositional style. Fans of Williams' multitude of themes, as well as his overarching style for the franchise, often withheld their enthusiasm for Doyle's score, despite its own admirable traits. The same predicament faced Nicholas Hooper, whose name stirred up far more controversy when he was allowed by Warner Brothers to write the score for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 2007. The franchise has been a revolving door for directors, and since Williams announced his departure from the series in 2004, the director of each particular film has been inclined, naturally, to hire his usual, personal collaborator to write the music for the films. For director David Yates, his partnership with Hooper would take some selling to Warner; Hooper's career (albeit BAFTA-winning) has never before included a Hollywood blockbuster size of project. Hooper and Yates collected pieces of his works, conjured some original ideas for The Order of the Phoenix specifically, and successfully convinced the studio that Hooper was up to the task. Some of those ideas would make the final cut in the recording of the score.

Hooper would be given the 90-member Chamber Orchestra of London to record at Abbey Road Studios, with an impressive collection of engineers, mixers, orchestrators, and conductor to assist him. The technical merits of this recording should be praised immediately; Hooper employs a far wider variety of softer instruments in his ensemble, often in conjunction with more powerful ones, and each participant in the score is crystal clear at every moment. As for the substance of the music itself, Hooper had little chance of satisfying all his inevitable listeners with this effort. Like Doyle's score before his, The Order of the Phoenix embodies the composer's own style of writing, offering only a few references to Williams' tones. But that distinct style of Williams' writing is for the most part lost in The Order of the Phoenix, not to mention that Hooper makes no discernable connections to Doyle's contribution at all. A disclaimer should be made at this point that the commercial album is only 53 minutes in length, and given that almost two hours of music was recorded for The Order of the Phoenix, there may be references to Williams and Doyle material hidden in less substantial cues not available on that album. For fans rightly concerned about the incorporation of previous themes in the franchise, the album will disappointingly contain only a hint of what has come before. Hooper and Yates made a concerted effort to adapt Williams' pivotal "Hedwig's Theme" into several key moments of the score, but no other ideas are directly retained. Williams' spectacular "B" variant on that theme (for Hogwarts... the bold fanfare on brass) is barely referenced in fragments. The outstanding themes by Williams for Quidditch and Voldemort are gone, and neither of Doyle's memorable themes from The Goblet of Fire is heard, including his gorgeous family theme. The wide variety of short motifs by Williams, often compiled into his concert suites from the first film's score, is not utilized. Perhaps most frustrating for fans of the three superior Williams scores is the fact that Hooper never actually provides a full statement of the Hedwig "A" or "B" themes. While plentiful in references, sometimes quite keenly adaptated in quiet or tense moments, these themes are typically mutilated considerably by Hooper.

Three new themes are offered by Hooper. The first of these ideas is for Professor Umbridge. His stated intent with this theme was to address the "insistent and irritating" side of her character, masked by the fluffy nature of her appearance. He accomplishes that well, with her theme prancing along with jaunty superiority over a prissy, waltz-like rhythm. The mid-sections of her suite track offer music most resembling the style of Williams (and his score for Hook specifically), but without the same meaty substance. It's an adept theme, and a listenable one despite its intended ability to slightly irk you. But in the suite and in "Umbridge Spoils a Beautiful Morning," the theme's two appearances on album, it fails to muster any of hatred or dread that the character elicits. It is performed by glockenspiel, chimes, woodwinds, and high strings... the ultimate in flighty, carefree instrumentation. These tones seem to awkwardly convey only one aspect of the wretched woman's perceived impact on the story, and is therefore curiously lacking. The second theme written by Hooper for The Order of the Phoenix is more nebulous. Heard in full in "Possession" and appropriately at the outset of "The Sirius Deception," this theme for Voldemort's slow possession of Potter is difficult to really grasp, partly because of its inherently gradual progressions but also because it is punctuated by a fair amount of dissonance. There is little punch to this theme, and while its adagio qualities provide for quick moments of enticement (especially when a chorus is mixed in), its reliance on the layers of string dissonance cause it to lack the same ominous memorability of Williams' Voldemort theme (which enunciated itself best in the second score). A third theme is developed for Dumbledore's Army, and parts of this theme would carry over to the context of the Order of the Phoenix. This theme, heard more often than the others in its spirited and optimistic rhythms, represents the rebellious behavior of the students. The highlight of its influence comes at the expense of Umbridge's theme in "The Room of Requirements," perhaps the best cue of the album. The full ensemble rhythms of this cue are hopelessly flighty and, with the help of the high range instrumentation, provide the true sense of magic that film demands.

Aside from these three primary themes, Hooper's score seems to play like a "stream of consciousness" style of effort. There are a considerable number of atmospheric cues, ranging from harmonically pleasant to quietly foreboding. Many of these cues are almost indistinguishable from silence. In "The Kiss," "The Sacking of Trelawney," and "Loved Ones & Leaving," Hooper provides extremely conservative, minimalistic music. It's charming to the last moment, with glockenspiel and chimes always present for the treble-heavy appeal to the heart, but the simplistic harmony and lack of interesting crescendos leaves many of these cues as unnecessary inclusions on the album. The action cues are similarly non-descript outside of their technical constructs. The Japanese taiko drum for the low rumblings of the suspense cues is underwhelming as a solo instrument, and in many of those darker cues, you have to rely on the occasional swell of orchestral force to maintain your interest. During the early Dementor attack sequence, this manifests itself in a three-note burst of magnificent harmony from the chorus. Wild rhythms put forth by the low strings and timpani break the silence several minutes into "The Hall of Prophecies," stirring up significant noise without really stating any particular theme. The technique would be repeated in "The Death of Sirius," with the rhythms finally breaking a lengthy sequence of dissonance that barely registers at audible levels. Slightly more consistent is the urgency of the string swells and harsh brass blasts in "Darkness Takes Over." It is without a doubt that the action and suspense sequences in The Order of the Phoenix are lacking in continuity and genuine power, forcing the score to rely too heavily on its fluffier majority. That majority does have some impressive singular moments, however. In "The Ministry of Magic," Hooper's dancing rhythms and light instrumentation do justice to the wondrous atmosphere of the setting. A militaristic variant on the rebellious theme for the Army and Order soars with immense determination in "Flight of the Order of the Phoenix." A restrained, string-led send-off to finish the score is pretty, especially with its Irish-flavored counterpoint on flute.

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The most outrageous and memorable cue is "Fireworks," a wild Irish-flavored jig accompanying the story's funniest moment. As the Weasley twins unleash their havoc on the castle and ride into the glorious sunset, the jig leads to an unrestrained electric guitar, wailing without regard for any of the castle's rules. It's perhaps Hooper's best moment in the entire score, perfectly poking a finger at the establishment with the right tone of teen rebellion. He certainly wasn't afraid to spice up the score with unique instrumentation. His use of synthetics extends to backwards orchestra hit samples, and the jig's instrumentation would include an accordion at the end of "A Journey to Hogwarts." His reliance on the incessantly tingling glockenspiel and chimes for the majority of cues will definitely irritate some listeners, though, especially given that Williams managed to incorporate those treble tones with greater balance. Other listeners will be bothered by the simplistic nature of many of Hooper's chord progressions; The Order of the Phoenix is a rather straight-forward score. Even others will be bothered by his light tones for questionably inappropriate occasions. Aside from lingering doubts over the flightiness of Umbridge's theme, a cue like "The Sirius Deception" features Potter in "panic-savior mode," and while the noble, strictly-positive harmony of the Army/Order thematic variant in the latter half of that cue might seem appropriate, it lacks any of the foreshadowing dissonance that should logically accompany that doomed situation. Too many times, Hooper's score turns left when you expect it to turn right. To an extent, that approach is refreshing. But with the franchise already firmly established musically and the stories well known, some of his choices beg for challenges. His dismantling of Williams' two Hedwig themes might seem like a good idea for a world of wizardry gone awry, but it makes for unsatisfying listening. The complex style of Williams' score is a faint memory and Doyle's brazenly morbid and weighty direction is completely abandoned. For some individual scenes, Hooper's music will suffice. At times it will excel. But it fails to provide continuity within either its own confines or those of the franchise as a whole. An out-of-sequence album presentation and rather short running time (compared to the previous Harry Potter albums) only contribute to the dismay. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

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 Track Listings: Total Time: 52:57

• 1. Fireworks (1:51)
• 2. Professor Umbridge (2:37)
• 3. Another Story (2:43)
• 4. Dementors in the Underpass (1:47)
• 5. Dumbledore's Army (2:44)
• 6. The Hall of Prophecies (4:29)
• 7. Possession (3:22)
• 8. The Room of Requirements (6:11)
• 9. The Kiss (1:58)
• 10. A Journey to Hogwarts (2:56)
• 11. The Sirius Deception (2:38)
• 12. The Death of Sirius (4:00)
• 13. Umbridge Spoils a Beautiful Morning (2:42)
• 14. Darkness Takes Over (3:00)
• 15. The Ministry of Magic (2:50)
• 16. The Sacking of Trelawney (2:17)
• 17. Flight of the Order of the Phoenix (1:36)
• 18. Loved Ones & Leaving (3:16)

 Notes and Quotes:  

  All artwork and sound clips from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix are Copyright © 2007, Warner Brothers Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 6/27/07 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2007-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.