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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Album Cover Art
Common Cover
Variation Cover
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed and Produced by:

Adapted and Conducted by:
William Ross

Orchestrated by:
Eddie Karam
Conrad Pope

Performed by:
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Atlantic Records
(November 12th, 2002)
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Regular U.S. release. The albums have five different exterior covers, but they all contain the same inner cover (shown above as the "Common Cover"). The variation covers include one each of Harry, Hermione, Ron, Hagrid, and Dumbledore. The Harry cover is shown above as well. While none of the covers has been reportedly shortprinted, the Dumbledore cover has sold with more frequency than the others (according to statistics from national retail outlets).
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 intend to own all of John Williams' scores for the first three films in the Harry Potter franchise, because this entry is arguably the weakest, least cohesive of those endeavors.

Avoid it... if you never considered Williams' work for the superior Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to generate enough magical spirit to represent the concepts in the stories.
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WRITTEN 11/7/02, REVISED 12/2/08
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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: (John Williams/William Ross) The Harry Potter locomotive steamed into its second film installment with only a year having passed from the first film, mirroring and competing with the breakneck franchise pacing of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films. Despite the competition from both The Lord of the Rings and the renewed Star Wars franchise in 2002, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets held its own with both adults and a slightly younger set of audiences. The second story in the Harry Potter series, however, begins a movement towards a darker and more mysterious journey for the young witches and wizards at Hogwarts, causing each successive entry to lose the flighty innocence conveyed by composer John Williams' score for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The second film's more ominous tone, despite several flurries of comedy in its ranks, provided a much darker overall canvas for the veteran Williams to work with, this time utilizing the adaptation and conducting assistance of long-time associate William Ross to complete the score on schedule. Williams was no stranger, of course, to the blockbuster scene, with scores for sequels coming as a natural assignment for the maestro. With an effective, Oscar nominated score for the first film, director Chris Columbus was just as enthusiastic about Williams' musical production for the second venture. The path to the completion of that work was complicated, however, by the extremely busy year that the composer was experiencing in 2002. The assignment of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets came just as the finishing touches were being put on Star Wars: Attack of the Clones for George Lucas and Minority Report for Steven Spielberg, and Williams had already committed to the latter director's Catch Me If You Can when he realized that there would be a conflict with Columbus for the second Harry Potter film. Since he was absolutely resolute on the issue of continuing his music for the franchise, he called Ross early in 2002 and asked him to assist in arranging the themes from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone into the new material he was frantically composing for the sequel in available time.

Contrary to popular belief, Ross didn't actually compose any of that new music for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. A veteran orchestrator and a capable composer, Ross had written solo scores in the late 1990's that had often reminded listeners of the composers for whom he had orchestrated (and this especially applied to Alan Silvestri), so the emulation of Williams was not a task out of his ability. As Ross stated at the time of the film's release, "John communicated how important it was for him to establish musical continuity between the first and second installments of the series. Although he planned to write the new themes and new musical material for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, there would be areas of the new film in which he intended to utilize and adapt themes from the first Potter score." Ross' duties were to be limited to the areas in the film that had been designated (during their joint spotting sessions with Columbus) to receive adaptations of the previous score's material. "John was very specific about what material and themes would be played where," Ross continued. "By [May of 2002] he had begun writing new themes and material. There were a few instances where he suggested I use some of the new musical ideas to elaborate and expand the music from the original score that I was working with." Williams wrote five significant themes for the film, four of which he adapted himself into the concert suite versions that exist near the start of the commercial album for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Some of this material was sent to Ross as late as the final day of recording with the London Symphony Orchestra; the conducting of the famed group was Ross' duty for this score, a responsibility that thrilled the less experienced composer. While performing Williams' music with their usual precision, Ross stated, "They truly made me feel at home and comfortable." Ultimately, Ross diligently attempted to push all the credit for the score back on to Williams, though the maestro insisted that Ross be given adaptation credit on screen and album, causing much of the confusion about the attribution of the work and, consequently, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was the only of Williams' three scores for the franchise not to be nominated for an Academy Award.

The finished score for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is one that contains all of the expected musical references to the first film and expands upon Williams' plethora of fresh ideas for newly introduced characters and locations. The integration of character cross-references is, of course, a strong highlight of the books, and Williams had proven with the increasingly complex Star Wars prequel scores that such merging, crossing, overlapping, and counterpoint is no difficulty for him. This area of subtlety is where Williams' lack of involvement in each moment of the score's arrangement causes the most problems, however. Each of the new themes for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is adequate (though none could argue that any of them are as strong as the primary three he composed for the first entry), but they rarely mingle with each other. Nor do the themes from the first film exist with the masterful integration as they had in that film's extremely intricate score. Williams had a knack for inserting extremely subtle references to the other themes in almost every prominent statement of an idea in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and that level of sophistication is somewhat lacking here. Instead, we hear a score that contains several strong thematic ideas, but ones that are mostly self-contained. The album release for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets complicates matters even more, because although the product clocks in at over 70 minutes in length, it doesn't offer many of the better adaptations by Ross and thus cuts the two parts of Hedwig's theme from most of what you hear on that presentation. You can almost distinguish the fragmentation of Williams' process of writing in the lack of cohesion from which the score suffers. One of the great disappointments of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is that none of its themes exist for concepts general enough to classify any of them as "the primary theme" of the film. Ironically, it's the theme for Harry and his friendship with Ron and Hermione (heard in the concert suite "Harry's Wondrous World" reprised in full on this album) that transcends the three major, magic-related themes from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and plays a significant role in the sequel score.

Thus, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a disappointing score in terms of its thematic constructs and their relation to the first film. The only major cue in the film to touch upon the material from the previous entry is the opening "Prologue: Book II and the Escape from the Dursleys," which seems like a cursory and blatant attempt to provide some early screen time for each of the four major ideas from the first score without altering them significantly. This cue opens with the delicate, celesta performance of the magical side of Hedwig's theme (technically for the owl but also encompassing the general world of wizardry) and builds to a relatively lonely French horn and bass string performance of the second half of the theme, representing Hogwarts, for the actual title sequence. Celesta and woodwinds cover some of the lesser motifs from the first score before, at 1:35, the flying theme, otherwise denoting magical mischief, is introduced. The flying theme's concert arrangement dominates the middle portion of the cue, yielding at the 2:50 mark to Harry's theme, also seeming pulled from the concert arrangement. The lack of a strong presence for the two parts of Hedwig's theme in the remainder of the score is the most devastating problem facing Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The new themes are adequate, but not nearly as memorable. The first of these ideas is the one for "Fawkes the Phoenix," a stately piece that very well could have represented Professor Dumbledore himself and finally exhibits some of that Gryffindor pride. Fluttering woodwinds are the trademark element of flight in this theme, adding a sense of whimsy to the otherwise conservatively dramatic strings that represent the bird. A more varied and natural exploration of this idea exists in the entirety of "Fawkes is Reborn," and a slower tempo lends majesty to the theme at the climax of the film in "Dueling the Basilisk." Performing groups looking for a piece from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to represent the score in their compilations often choose the actual "The Chamber of Secrets" concert suite, which does a disservice to the score given the fact that the piece doesn't actually have much to do with the rest of the entire work.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.73 Stars
***** 4,489 5 Stars
**** 3,805 4 Stars
*** 2,629 3 Stars
** 1,152 2 Stars
* 995 1 Stars
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My alternate review...
Hari Haran - January 24, 2017, at 2:51 p.m.
1 comment  (328 views)
My thoughts
Vincent - June 19, 2015, at 3:19 p.m.
1 comment  (602 views)
Best score!
Owen - October 5, 2012, at 7:20 p.m.
1 comment  (1118 views)
Complete Score
Drew C. - July 15, 2012, at 9:31 a.m.
1 comment  (1133 views)
U are Evill Muggles
jane - January 19, 2008, at 5:21 a.m.
1 comment  (2084 views)
In the end....   Expand >>
Titus - December 10, 2005, at 6:37 a.m.
3 comments  (3096 views)
Newest: March 2, 2012, at 6:03 a.m. by

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
Total Time: 70:17
• 1. Prologue: Book II and the Escape from the Dursleys (3:31)
• 2. Fawkes the Phoenix (3:45)
• 3. The Chamber of Secrets (3:49)
• 4. Gilderoy Lockhart (2:05)
• 5. The Flying Car (4:08)
• 6. Knockturn Alley (1:47)
• 7. Introducing Colin (1:49)
• 8. The Dueling Club (4:08)
• 9. Dobby the House Elf (3:27)
• 10. The Spiders (4:32)
• 11. Moaning Myrtle (2:05)
• 12. Meeting Aragog (3:18)
• 13. Fawkes is Reborn (3:19)
• 14. Meeting Tom Riddle (3:38)
• 15. Cornish Pixies (2:13)
• 16. Polyjuice Potion (3:52)
• 17. Cakes for Crabbe and Goyle (3:30)
• 18. Dueling the Basilisk (5:02)
• 19. Reunion of Friends (5:08)
• 20. Harry's Wondrous World (5:02)

Notes Icon
The insert includes extensive credits and a note from director Chris Columbus. The packaging also unfolds into a rather unattractive poster of Dobby.
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or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets are Copyright © 2002, Atlantic Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 11/7/02 and last updated 12/2/08.
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