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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Album Cover Art
2004 Atlantic
2018 La-La Land
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Vocals Performed by:
The London Voices

The London Oratory School Schola

Orchestrated by:
Conrad Pope
Eddie Karam
Labels Icon
Atlantic Records
(May 25th, 2004)

La-La Land Records
(November 23rd, 2018)
Availability Icon
The 2004 Atlantic album was a regular U.S. release. The 2018 La-La Land set contains all three of Williams' scores for the franchise. It is limited to 5,000 copies and available initially for $100 through soundtrack specialty outlets.
Nominated for an Academy Award and 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, like most film music collectors, marvel at the ingenuity with which John Williams explores each of his mind-bogglingly complex ideas for individual concepts within his fantasy scores.

Avoid it... if you are a strong believer in the thematic continuity of any franchise, for the maestro largely tackled this score as though it were a series of self-contained vignettes with surprisingly little regard for his previous identities.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 5/24/04, REVISED 3/5/19
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: (John Williams) After a year devoid of J.K. Rowling's beloved witches and wizards on the big screen, Warner Brothers provided the third installment of the "Harry Potter" franchise in 2004 at an uncharacteristic summertime release date. While continuing the trend of the series of (then only five) books towards a darker, more serious conflict between good versus evil, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban also introduces a great number of characters that would prove pivotal in future installments. Potter's parents and their relationships with friends and enemies in their own years at Hogwarts finally begin to take shape and help explain allegiances that will be both tested and redefined in the years to come. There have been many strong arguments stating that this third book is, despite the absence of Lord Voldemort, the most intriguing story of the series, the best integrated clash of the lighter fare of the earlier entries with the action soon to dominate the concept. Director Alfonso Cuaron guided this shift, taking the reigns from Chris Columbus, and there was initial speculation that he would bring composing collaborator Patrick Doyle along with him. While Doyle indeed joined the franchise with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Cuaron retained John Williams for the director's lone entry. Williams cheerfully returned once again (along with a continuing cast and crew mourning the sad loss of actor Richard Harris) after receiving the assistance of conductor William Ross in completing the arrangements on his Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets score in 2002 due to the maestro's hectic schedule. For the first time in nearly a decade, Williams had taken a year off, allowing 2003 to break his vast streak of consecutive years with an Academy Award nomination. Partially because of this break, partially because of the haunting Christmas carol-like music that Williams provided for the film's trailer, and partially because of the magic that is always possible in the non-muggle world of "Harry Potter," Williams' score for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was as highly anticipated as any in 2004. No matter your opinion of how well these scores hold up over time, there is a consensus about the generally high quality of Williams' writing, the importance of the carryover of his style, and recognition of how identifiable the composer had made his delightful plethora of themes thus far.

Had Williams continued in the franchise past Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he may have had more themes on his hands for the "Harry Potter" universe than he created for the Star Wars one. Unfortunately, due to shifting directors in the franchise and the composer's semi-retirement in the late 2000's, and despite empty speculation about his interest in returning to score one or both of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows scores, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban turned out to be his final venture in this concept. With so many new characters and ideas revealed in this entry, it's no surprise that two major new themes are introduced by Williams, joined by several lesser motifs that may have been given further development in future films had the composer continued in the franchise. These new identities exist almost completely separately from Williams' motific development for the first two films, a significant detriment to the score and one that strips much of its "Harry Potter" character from the music. In fact, for nearly the entire length of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, there's hardly any sense whatsoever that this music belongs to the same franchise. This choice was primarily Cuaron's; the director insisted that the score take a different approach in its thematic placements and instrumentation, and Williams obliged. As such, there is a totally senseless loss of cohesion between Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and its predecessors, opening the doors for future composers in the series to likewise jettison thematic attributions from Williams. The lack of applications for the themes for Hogwarts, a powerfully popular variation on Hedwig's theme, and those for Harry himself is simply unforgivable. The two prior scores had been so extraordinarily well coordinated in the development of these themes that their total absence from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is insultingly ridiculous. Williams had proven with his "Chamber of Secrets" theme that he could take his original motifs from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and manipulate them into brilliantly dark alternatives. Why was the same not attempted here? With Hedwig's theme only provided occasional lip service and itself not evolved in meaningful ways, and the flying theme only reprised at the very end of the score, the thematic core of the franchise is simply missing. For some listeners, this abandonment may disqualify the score completely.

The two major new themes from Williams for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban are, ironically, not for new concepts in the franchise. Harry's relationship with his family and the school itself receive those new themes despite perfectly adequate ones existing already. The new themes for these areas don't even make token references to the old ones, either. Again, this is nonsensical and frustrating spotting of a film, but Williams made the best of his instructions from Cuaron to deviate completely. Interestingly, neither of these themes is related to any of the substantial, new characters in this entry. Don't expect, for instance, a major showing of thematic force for Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, or even the dementors. They all have motifs to some degree or another, but none is memorable. Many listeners will perceive some colorful treatment for characters in individual scenes, as well as more nebulous, atmospheric ideas that encompass the wintry atmosphere of the film as a whole. But none of it would last in the franchise. The choral Christmas song for "Double Trouble" is a great example of this score's singular flavor, as is the ethereal motif for Potter's patronus and a familial theme in the cue "Window to the Past" that more effectively serves as the primary identity for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The "Double Trouble" theme is the identity for the school year at Hogwarts, its formal, vocalized introduction serving as Williams' dark counterpart to his Home Alone carols. Its McBeth-inspired lyrics and an accelerated pace tilts the song just far enough off center as to maintain the frightening realization that this Christmas season at Hogwarts is even more ominous than ones past. Its melody and medieval tone is reprised extensively in "Trouble Takes Many Forms" (including a notable recorder solo), on celesta and harp in "The Big Doors," and in the fluffy, weightless cue, "Portrait Gallery." Because Williams was tasked with expressing this theme in the tones of music from long ago, the performances yield an often dainty and unsatisfying ambience. Other relatively early cues in the film stew with the idea before the score largely leaves it behind. Only in the opening of the end credits sequence are listeners afforded a fully symphonic interpretation of this idea that transforms it into a surprisingly formidable presence. Had this melody been offered such depth in more passages during the picture and combined with the established Hogwarts variation of the Hedwig theme, it could have maintained a more memorable stance on screen.

The second and more enticing new theme in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban accompanies Harry's continued discovery of his parents. Again, a theme already existed for this concept, but Williams supplants that idea completely with his "Window to the Past" theme. The lovely recorder-led performance in that suite-like arrangement is the primary musical identity of the film, dancing in the solo performance (by composer/performer Richard Harvey of Animal Farm, Arabian Nights, and Suriyothai) of an almost Irish folk tune and building into a fully orchestral statement with Hedwig's theme supplied as an interlude. This attractive theme is introduced in "Parents' Portrait and the Empty Playground" and is further exposed in "On the Bridge - Remembering Mother" and "A Walk in the Woods and Bird's Flight," the latter offering the best integration of the Hedwig theme into this score's new material. As Black and Lupin are revealed to be protagonists, Williams shifts their three late cues with Potter to include this theme, including a close emulation of the concert arrangement in "Sirius Says Goodbye." A similar treatment is afforded to the middle passage of the end credits. The lesser motifs in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban have less of an impact on the score than hoped, with the exception of the soaring Buckbeak flight theme. The beastly bird itself doesn't maintain its own musical identity while it's on the ground, but Williams' material for two flight sequences involving Buckbeak are the unquestionable highlight of the score. Finally ditching the sparsely vintage highlands tone of the other themes, "Buckbeak's Flight" provides the only really broad and majestic, fully bombastic Williams cue in the score and was among the last reminders of the maestro's early 1980's heyday before his sabbatical of the 2000's. An impressive barrage of timpani at the start of the cue leads to two minutes of grand and epic fantasy music that serves as the highlight of the score within the film and likely alone earned Williams his Oscar nomination for this effort. After remaining absent for other Buckbeak scenes, a variation of the same idea returns in full force (after a very brief allusion to Harry's forgotten theme from the prior films at 0:34) in "The Rescue of Sirius." A lesser motif does address trepidation about the approach to the animal, as Williams presents a thumping bass rhythm in "Befriending the Hippogriff" (against the "Double Trouble" theme) and "The Executioner." None of the softer sentimentality of the creature is addressed by either of these motifs.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.88 Stars
***** 3,539 5 Stars
**** 2,490 4 Stars
*** 1,718 3 Stars
** 684 2 Stars
* 482 1 Stars
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Never a 3-star score [EDITED]   Expand >>
Bounty - July 1, 2019, at 3:51 a.m.
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Newest: July 1, 2019, at 7:22 a.m. by
FVSR Reviews Harry Potter III
Brendan Cochran - March 1, 2016, at 5:23 p.m.
1 comment  (809 views)
Did you watch the film?
Vincent - June 30, 2015, at 8:32 a.m.
1 comment  (1025 views)
music in maurauders map scene
nat - August 5, 2013, at 3:31 p.m.
1 comment  (1163 views)
Complete Score
Drew C. - July 15, 2012, at 9:32 a.m.
1 comment  (1560 views)
The poster is within the insert is incredibly creepy.
Richard Kleiner - July 14, 2011, at 8:59 p.m.
1 comment  (1870 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
2004 Atlantic Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 68:36
• 1. Lumos! (Hedwig's Theme) (1:38)
• 2. Aunt Marge's Waltz (2:15)
• 3. The Knight Bus (2:52)
• 4. Apparition on the Train (2:15)
• 5. Double Trouble (1:37)
• 6. Buckbeak's Flight (2:08)
• 7. A Window to the Past (3:54)
• 8. The Whomping Willow and the Snowball Fight (2:22)
• 9. Secrets of the Castle (2:32)
• 10. The Portrait Gallery (2:05)
• 11. Hagrid the Professor (1:59)
• 12. Monster Books and Boggarts! (2:26)
• 13. Quidditch, Third Year (3:47)
• 14. Lupin's Transformation and Chasing Scabbers (3:01)
• 15. The Patronus Light (1:12)
• 16. The Werewolf Scene (4:25)
• 17. Saving Buckbeak (6:39)
• 18. Forward to Time Past (2:33)
• 19. The Dementors Converge (3:12)
• 20. Finale (3:24)
• 21. Mischief Managed! (12:10)
2018 La-La Land Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 151:29

Notes Icon
The insert of the 2004 Atlantic album includes a note from the director about the score and film, as well as a fold-out poster. The CD is enhanced with wallpapers, a screensaver, stills from the film, a video game demo, and a Warner Brothers contest entry.

The 2018 La-La Land set contains extremely detailed information about the Williams scores for the franchise, with several booklets containing a wealth of information. The track listings are not featured in any convenient place on the packaging, however.
Copyright © 2004-2021, 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 Prisoner of Azkaban are Copyright © 2004, 2018, Atlantic Records, La-La Land Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 5/24/04 and last updated 3/5/19.
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