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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
Album Cover Art
2010 Regular
2010 Limited
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Conducted, and Co-Produced by:

Co-Orchestrated and Co-Produced by:
Conrad Pope

Co-Orchestrated by:
Nan Schwartz
Clifford Tasner
Jean-Pascal Beintus

Performed by:
The London Symphony Orchestra

London Voices

The London Oratory Junior Choir

The Schola Cantorum of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School
Labels Icon
WaterTower Music
(Regular Edition)
(November 16th, 2010)

WaterTower Music
(Limited Edition)
(December 21st, 2010)
Availability Icon
The initial November 2010 retail album is a regular U.S. release. The "Limited Edition Collectors Box Set" released the following month is restricted to a planned 10,000 copies and carried an initial price of near $70.
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Decorative Nonsense
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you are a genuine enthusiast of Alexandre Desplat's trademark mannerisms and seek what is essentially a very strong compilation of the composer's best techniques in a variety of individual settings.

Avoid it... if you expect to hear Desplat create a cohesive identity of his own for this film or extend existing ones from his predecessors, a monumental disappointment in terms of the continuing continuity issues that plague the music for this franchise.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 11/2/10, REVISED 1/12/11
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1: (Alexandre Desplat) An intriguing aspect of the maturation of the "Harry Potter" concept from the pen of J.K. Rowling has been its transformation from innocent, children's genre escapism to outright grown-up horror. Those who read the "Harry Potter" books of the 1990's as a light diversion were up against an author (and, of course, a movie franchise) determined to drag the concept into the depths of apocalyptic despair. Thus, we end up with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the finale of Rowling's original set of seven books, detailing the darkest hour in the parallel universe of magic and bringing both death and closure to the titular character and many of those around him. The final confrontation with Lord Voldemort and his assault on the remaining forces of good in magic's realm rage violently while the youngsters at the heart of the concept seek out and destroy all the vestiges of the villain's soul. Rowling, now among the richest women in the world, has interestingly hinted at someday continuing the "Harry Potter" concept in subsequent books, with notes about future timelines in the story already generously conveyed by the author to her throngs of devoted fans. For Warner Brothers, the franchise has been equally reliable, with a quarter of a billion dollars allocated to the production of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Fortunately, the studio has allowed the split of the book into two feature films, a move that was considered but abandoned during the adaptation of "The Goblet of Fire." Shot together and released separately in 2010 and 2011, "The Deathly Hallows" has been especially tantalizing to film music collectors dissatisfied with director David Yates' collaboration with composer Nicholas Hooper for the previous two films. The revolving door of directors for these "Harry Potter" films has been tragic in its effect on the franchise's music, with each successive crew bringing another composer and another musical identity to the table. Hooper was reportedly disappointed by the poor response to his two contributions, and after bowing out of consideration for the final installment, Yated turned to French (yes, there's irony there) composer Alexandre Desplat for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. Like Hooper and Patrick Doyle before him, Desplat inherited expectations from both fans and studio alike in regards to the continuation of the sound dominantly established by the legendary John Williams for the first three films in the franchise.

To the delight of many, Desplat stated well before the recording of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 that he intended to make frequent use of Williams' recognizable primary identity for the "Harry Potter" universe. "I would take every opportunity to use the fabulous theme written by John Williams," Desplat stated early in 2010. "I'd say it is not sufficiently used in the latest movies, so if I have the opportunity and if the footage will allow me, I will arrange it. I shall make it with great honor and pleasure." This came as a tremendous relief to those loyal to Williams' concept identities, for Doyle had reportedly been forced by the studio to include some of Williams' material in "The Goblet of Fire" and Hooper had done an all-around poor job of using Williams' themes on his own. If anyone could twist Hedwig's Theme and others into exciting and dramatic new variations, Desplat would be an excellent candidate. His knack for extremely intricate and complicated instrumental constructs has won him a strong following in the film music community, though some fail to connect the composer's undeniably impressive technical precision with the heart of a successful emotional appeal. Desplat provided a preview of his approach to sequel scores when he wrote the score for The Twilight Saga: New Moon in 2009, music that plays well outside of the picture but was shunned by many concept enthusiasts because it was, frankly, too intelligent in its demeanor for that franchise. He seems to have taken the same approach to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, returning to the technical prowess that many casual listeners may associate with Williams' music, but still with a distinctly Desplat-like personality. There is no doubt that the finished product for this film is absolutely saturated with Desplat's mannerisms. The involvement of longtime Williams orchestrator Conrad Pope in the production of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 helps shift portions of Desplat's score in the direction of Williams' music, especially in some of the harmonic flourishes and brazen action material. As promised, Desplat does also reference Williams' Hedwig theme, the overarching identity of the franchise, though not as pervasively as promised. The composer also ignores the themes written for the franchise by Doyle and Hooper, not surprising in the case of the latter but somewhat disappointing given that Doyle's contributions were generally top-notch. The most interesting aspect of Desplat's handling of continuity for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is the fact that he so intelligently integrates both his and Williams' themes that their subtle references will likely be missed by the mass majority of mainstream viewers.

The instrumentation employed by Desplat for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is exactly as one of his fans would predict. The full London Symphony Orchestra is joined by a variety of choirs and specialty instruments. Along with expected cameos by glockenspiel and celesta (successful staples of Williams' notion of "magic"), the composer uses lutes, acoustic guitar, recorder, shakuhachi (the faithful James Horner tool of wails and puffs), and mandolin to address the story's more colorful characters. Ultimately, though, the mix of all the recorded tracks for the score weighs the orchestra heavily, and so don't expect for any soloists (outside of a cello) to really make an impact. The mix of the score not only favors the strings of the orchestra but also the lower regions of the soundscape, yielding potential (and utterly ironic) comparisons to the Hans Zimmer/Remote Control sound of bass-heavy chopping and droning. Part of this circumstance owes to Desplat's loyalty to a deep, electronic bass-thumping effect that sometimes rambles in its own ostinato beneath all other activity; this tool goes all the way back to its prominent placement in the composer's score for Birth and is a sound truly unique to his career. Unfortunately, it's also an insufferable nuisance for anyone with a decent sound system, drowning out or distracting from all the intricacies elsewhere in the base at that given moment. Otherwise, Desplat smartly spreads the duties in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 so that listeners who enjoy his attention to fluttering details in the treble region will still be able to hear flutes and trumpets perform difficult counterpoint passages in many cues. It's safe to say that the 105 London performers of this score were taxed far more heavily in terms of performance complexity than with Hooper's music for the franchise, both of which woefully lacking in passion and intricacy of construct. There will undoubtedly be those that continue to find Desplat's techniques to be too coldly precise; despite all of the man's overwhelming talent for producing interesting lines of action in his music, that capability sometimes yields a lack of heart. He genuinely tries hard in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 to instill feelings of warmth for the three main protagonists, producing some of his most engaging harmonic yearning in years. Still, without a tendency to condense his ideas into easily digestible, fully harmonic and memorable statements of relatively straight forward magnificence, he never had much of a chance to equal Williams' satisfying ability to generate music that could be translated into fan-favorite concert suites. There is no single moment in the score for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 that could be adapted into a successful representative of the work in concert suite format, and that leads this review to the troubling situation with Desplat's themes.

In regards to the thematic attributes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, Desplat inexplicably fails not only on behalf of the franchise but also in regards to his own ideas. The troublesome situation regarding his application of prior themes is an issue that will be taken up at the end of this review, because for some listeners (and likely a fair share of Desplat fans), adherence to franchise tradition is not a major concern. But even as a standalone score with its own thematic development, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is a hit and miss proposition. Desplat does indeed write several new themes, some of them very compelling in their constructs. Unfortunately, none of them stands out as the primary identity of the film, their progressions are often altered at a whim, and very rarely is a theme manipulated to fit an emotional environment significantly different from its initial, intended purpose. The most likely candidate to be Desplat's primary theme is an impressively determined, harmoniously satisfying idea in "Obliviate." The shifting minor-key progressions in this theme remind of a Zimmer composition in many ways, including the relentlessly churning string ostinatos underneath the theme and the rise of that rhythm out of near silence for the cue's first minute. The combination of lower brass supporting broad bass harmony and trumpets in easy counterpoint makes this surprisingly inspirational cue a clear winner. The theme is reduced to solo cello at the outset of "Ron Leaves" before a longing exploration by strings. It is also referenced in fragments throughout "Hermione's Parents," eventually returning to solo cello once again. The most prominent new theme (if one could really call it prominent) is likely Desplat's identity for Harry and his friends. Heard immediately at the outset of "Polyjuice Potion," this quietly resilient, heroic identity takes a more somber and noble stance early in "At the Burrow" before degenerating into a downright depressing solo piano performance in "Harry and Ginny." A villain's theme uses an urgent sense of movement much like the title theme, moving with rolling rhythms enhanced in the bass by Desplat's rambling electronic tone effect in "Snape to Malfoy Manor." The four-note descending phrases joined by the same underlying rhythm would return in "Death Eaters," and the payoff portion of the progression (in the second phrase) has both hints a mystery theme developed later in the score and, likely coincidentally, Williams' marginalized theme for Voldemort in his first two scores (though, to be fair, that general minor-key progression has been used to denote drama or evil in everything from Toto's Dune to James Newton Howard's Lady in the Water, so don't expect very obvious connections to Williams here either).

Ratings Icon
Average: 2.79 Stars
***** 350 5 Stars
**** 431 4 Stars
*** 565 3 Stars
** 588 2 Stars
* 526 1 Stars
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1 comment  (460 views)
You really misunderstood this score
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Complete Score
Drew C. - July 15, 2012, at 9:42 a.m.
1 comment  (1265 views)
Continuity   Expand >>
Laureen - March 1, 2011, at 9:14 a.m.
4 comments  (3016 views)
Newest: March 4, 2011, at 8:54 a.m. by
Will the review be revised?
GK - February 27, 2011, at 4:38 p.m.
1 comment  (1343 views)
Dull   Expand >>
cs^tbl - December 8, 2010, at 1:59 p.m.
10 comments  (4368 views)
Newest: January 1, 2011, at 6:52 p.m. by
Matt S.

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
2010 Regular Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 73:43
• 1. Obliviate (3:02)
• 2. Snape to Malfoy Manor (1:58)
• 3. Polyjuice Potion (3:32)
• 4. Sky Battle (3:48)
• 5. At the Burrow (2:35)
• 6. Harry and Ginny (1:43)
• 7. The Will (3:39)
• 8. Death Eaters (3:14)
• 9. Dobby (3:49)
• 10. Ministry of Magic (1:46)
• 11. Detonators (2:23)
• 12. The Locket (1:52)
• 13. Fireplaces Escape (2:54)
• 14. Ron Leaves (2:35)
• 15. The Exodus (1:37)
• 16. Godric's Hollow Graveyard (3:15)
• 17. Bathilda Bagshot (3:54)
• 18. Hermione's Parents (5:50)
• 19. Destroying the Locket (1:11)
• 20. Ron's Speech (2:16)
• 21. Lovegood (3:27)
• 22. The Deathly Hallows (3:17)
• 23. Captured and Tortured (2:56)
• 24. Rescuing Hermione (1:50)
• 25. Farewell to Dobby (3:43)
• 26. The Elder Wand (1:36)
2010 Limited Set Tracks   ▼Total Time: 89:30

Notes Icon
The insert of the regular album includes extensive pictures from the film and notes about the score from both the director and the composer. The limited set contains a copy of that same insert in addition to the DVD version, vinyl version, a folded poster, two 35MM film cells, a printed autograph on a cue sheet ("Detonators"), and a certificate denoting the number of the release. The carboard box containing these items is flimsy and does not adequately hold the CDs and DVD securely in its basic sleeves.
Copyright © 2010-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
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 1 are Copyright © 2010, WaterTower Music (Regular Edition), WaterTower Music (Limited Edition) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 11/2/10 and last updated 1/12/11.
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