As thousands of fans around the country eagerly queue up for their various midnight screenings tonight, I’m sitting at home with the next best thing – Nicholas Hooper’s 28-track film soundtrack. As the opening track (aptly titled “Opening”) slowly pours out of my speakers – Hooper takes his time (nearly a full 10 seconds) bringing this opening overture into the audible range. As a choir mixes and overlaps with haunting strings, I picture the blank screen that my fellow Potter fans will be witnessing in moments. And as the drums join in and begin to pound away – driving the action forward along with the straining strings, the excitement and anticipation that this film encapsulates for so many is palpable. I’m beginning to think it was a mistake to wait until opening night to see this film.

In the CD liner notes, composer Nicholas Hooper (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) say that “this is a CD to be listened to as a whole, and my intention is to draw the listener into experiencing the drama and feeling of one of the most emotional of the Harry Potter films.” Without a doubt Hooper has accomplished this. Infusing the entire score with an eerily melancholy vibe (a vibe that permeates even “Wizard Wheezes” – the most upbeat and rambunctious track of the album – and a track that’s not included in the film) Hooper keeps reminding listeners that there is most certainly something sinister lurking around the next corner.

There are full-blown action movie tracks (“Ron’s Victory”, “Into the Rushes”, “Journey to the Cave”) , quietly contemplative emotional renderings (“Harry & Hermione”,”Dumbledore’s Speech”), and everything in between (the jazzy “The Slug Party” stands on its own), but through it all Hooper maintains a sense of gravity and foreboding. Listening to the musical renderings that Hooper has created as a backdrop for the sixth entry in the Harry Potter franchise is enough to send any wizard (and most muggles) off to the theatre to see what sort of visual images director David Yates has concocted to match Hooper’s sounds.

On a side note, it’s rather unfortunate that the 25th track’s title (I won’t write it here) gives away a fairly major plot point to those who may not have read the book or seen the film yet.

Zach’s Rating: A
Perfect For: The Harry Potter fan who can relive the action by closing his/her eyes and listening to the music
Stay Away if: You watch the films just to see a Quidditch match

To purchase the soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, visit Amazon

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