Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Soundtrack, Jeremy Soule, 2002
The Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets soundtrack is easily the best of Jeremy Soule’s five scores for the franchise. It also benefits from a better album presentation than Soule’s other Harry Potter soundtracks. Only eight minutes of notable material are missing from the album release, which thankfully excises a lot of ruminative underscore. In fact, Chamber of Secrets is Soule’s most satisfying fantasy soundtrack. Yes, that’s a big claim to make, considering his work on franchises like The Elder Scrolls and Guild Wars. But Chamber of Secrets achieves a consistency of quality that Soule’s more bloated scores don’t accomplish. He doubtlessly deserved his 2004 win of the BAFTA Games Award for Best Original Music for Chamber of Secrets.
Soule’s designation as “the John Williams of game music” has always had more to do with hyperbole and facile comparisons than with actual musical parallels. For example, Soule seems almost entirely disinterested in the elaborate thematic structures that shape so many of Williams’ works. However, there’s no denying that at his best, Soule is able to create a lavish orchestral sound broadly reminiscent of John Williams’ works in the science fiction and fantasy genre.