As surely as summer follows autumn, it was inevitable that there'd be a movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to follow the success of its blockbuster predecessor. And just as surely, there would be a video game adaptation to follow. Many noted that the film was an improvement over the first, and similar feelings accompanied the game, which opened to generally warm reviews. Returning from the first game was composer Jeremy Soule, whose music for the original had had its share of highlights.
For the Chamber of Secrets, Soule powered up the ideas he had established for the first game, incorporating his original sound alongside some startling new themes. The Grieg-inspired theme from the first game is discarded in favor of a fantastic new "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Title Theme," which owes less of a debt to other composers while still conjuring the requisite magic. A powerful choral component is introduced as well, establishing a thread that extends throughout the album (and in several tracks omitted from it). Soule reprises the theme in an equally elegant form at the end of the album; listed as an alternate theme, it was actually used for the game's credits. Like the composer's theme for the previous game, though, it barely appears in the rest of the music.
The most notable improvement of Chamber of Secrets over its predecessor is the action music. Soule successfully imparts the magical atmosphere and dark choral harmonics of the other music into whimsical tracks like "DADA Action" "Willow Boss" and "Aragog Boss." "Flying" represents some of Soule's finest-ever action writing, with a soaring full-bodied orchestral theme that's equal parts action and wonder, though it's sadly unlooped on the official album. Overall, Soule's work combines the strength of the previous score (its whimsical character) while addressing its weaknesses, rendering it a better listening experience whether complete or on the mangled album.
Like Sorceror's Stone before it, Chamber of Secrets didn't get an album when it was released. This was rectified to an extent when, in late 2006, EA released digital albums of all Soule's Potter scores to iTunes. Chamber of Secrets fares much better than the previous album as a listening experience; the transitions aren't as jagged (though there are still no loops) and the tracks are generally longer, with a several being self-contained. A much more generous 43 minutes of music is provided as well, though some essential music is still missing (notably the thunderous final battle cue with full choir) and a few awkward edits or songs that have 5-10 seconds of silence at the end remain distractions.
While the official album has problems and is frustratingly incomplete, it's the best presentation of Soule's music out of the four iTunes Potter albums, and the score itself remains Soule's finest for the series. Fans will desire to augment the official release, but if you must buy one of Soule's Potter scores legitimately, buy this one.