I buy a soundtrack when I'm sitting enthralled by a movie but keep perking my ears for the music. That's why I bought this soundtrack. I know my John Williams, and I could tell without being told that he had not done the score. While Williams has created the most memorable themes in movie history (even my sixth graers who were born in the nineties know "Superman" and "Star Wars" when they hear them), I haven't heard this kind of passion from him since "Jurassic Park." Patrick Doyle has done wonders during a time when, honestly, soundtracks fail to be fun anymore, with rare exceptions ("Lord of the Rings").
If you search for the movies Doyle has composed music for, you'll find a common thread--"Henry V" (1989); "Great Expectations"; "Quest For Camelot"; "Hamlet" (1996); "Much Ado About Nothing." His resume is, for me, what makes him perfect as the scorer of the latest Potter music. Witchcraft and wizardry will always be linked with the ancient, and the medievel, and you can hear that style in this soundtrack, and it lends a timelessness and greater sense of maturity to the movie.
Because the movie itself has so many dark moments, much of the soundtrack is that way as well. The beginning track "The Story Continues" sets the stage for recurring themes that have their origins in Doyle, not Williams. He slips in more heaviness in tracks like "The Quidditch World Cup" for the arrival of the Bulgarians, but we can't overlook the whimsy of the start of the same track, which heralds the Irish. There is exquisite beauty in "Harry in Winter" and its theme finds its way into "Hogwarts' March." "Neville's Waltz" and "Potter Waltz" provide more relief from the darkness; however, tracks like "Golden Egg" and "Voldemort" manage wonderful transitions from light to dark and vice versa.
It seems that the majority of listeners enjoyed the soundtrack from the last movie; I can't comment on that, as I have not heard it, nor the two that came before it. I was never moved during the movie to purchase them, the way I was with GOF. Perhaps it is just that I am partial to the grandeur of music that is made to fit all the marvels of things of a time past. But isn't that what the Harry Potter books do, too? A mixture of ancient spells and wisdom with modern day inventions and slang. Doyle, it is evident, understands that synthesis.
A last note: each track is separate, which is indeed nice when you like a beginning and end to your music. There was a small trend in soundtracks for a while, like that of "Gladiator," in which all the tracks ran together, and it was annoying. Nothing to worry about here.