I was already eager to hear this score after I had been so impressed with the soundtrack for the first movie. Not only did I instantly notice the music in Prince Caspian, but the movie began with a brand new theme effectively bringing me back into the world of Narnia.
Here is the breakdown of the tracks included:
(spoiler note: I like to clarifying which parts of the movie were covered in the soundtrack so if you read the track summaries and haven't seen the movie you may have things spoiled for you)
1 - Prince Caspian Flees : This is one of my favorite tracks and it contains two of the new themes. It begins with tense strings as Professor Cornelius sneaks Prince Caspian out of the castle, but is quickly joined by percussion and vocals as Caspain flees into the night on horseback. At about a minute and a half, it changes into the new epic theme featuring dramatic strings and vocals. About three minutes in the vocals really intensify and then break into Caspian`s theme. This one is a series of fast-paced strings that form a driving melody. It is probably one of the most memorable themes on the soundtrack and, like with the Pevensies' theme in the first one, it becomes stronger and more articulate as the score progresses. It is cut off as Caspian is knocked from his horse and the dwarves appear. The track ends at about the point where Capsian blows Susan's horn.
2 - The Kings and Queens of Old : Jumping ahead by quite a bit, this track picks up with the Pevensies investigating the ruined castle. Quiet trumpets and strings vaguely echo old themes eventually giving way to a fast trilling of flute as the children run excitedly down into their old treasure room. The music settles comfortably into our first reprise of the Pevensies' theme, but it`s sadder than usual, as is a familiar refrain from one of Lucy and Tumnus' themes when Lucy realizes that their friends are gone. The track ends on that rather serious note.
3 - Journey to the How : This track begins with tantalizing chimes, harps, flutes and whispery vocals. About thirty seconds in the Pevensies' theme returns, very subdued and sad. I believe this scene is where they are in the boat, but it could easily be any time while they travel with Trumpkin. It mostly stays bittersweet after that, but nearly two minutes in things get ominous and change dramatically to frantic strings and percussions; the Telmarines` theme. I am not entirely certain where this bit falls in the film, but it is very intense and riveting piece of music. The final minute is a much more subdued version of the same theme but right at the end is an eerie vocal cue that I am pretty certain is when the children stop for the night and Lucy is lying on the grass staring at the sky.
4 - Arrival at Aslan's How : An enjoyable revisiting of some old themes, this one starts off moving hesitantly towards the Pevensies' royal theme, then breaks into the familiar vocals and piano. It continues to build into the triumphal theme as the children walk into Aslan's How beneath the guard of centaurs. It fades down again as the children see the inside of the How and Caspian shows them to the room where the stone table is. It becomes very quiet then as a flute gently plays in the background.
5 - Raid on the Castle : This track covers the entire raid on Miraz's castle. Starting just after the confrontation with Miraz. Both tense and driving, this track is one of my favorites as it pulls you into the action. A couple of times its almost as though the Pevensies' theme is trying to break through but its always drowned out by the more tense epic theme. Three minutes in the tone changes again to a more pounding version of Caspian's theme still mixed with the epic theme. This grows in an impressive horn crescendo before turning over into vocals and brass as the battle breaks out in earnest. At four minutes in the tone changes again as Miraz's men begin to overwhelm the Narnians and the fight becomes desperate. Finally the ominous version of the Pevensies' theme comes through as the fight dissolves into a slaughter. Sad as it is, one of my favorite parts is the emotional variation of the Pevensies' theme as Peter watches the trapped Narnias be killed in front of him. This part hits its mark perfectly and I can't hear it without seeing the scene. After that is a simple melody of sweeping strings which fades out as Edmund looks down at the destruction below.
6 - Miraz Crowned : I am not completely clear where everything in this track falls, but it is a good showcase of Miraz's various themes. Beginning with quavering strings, it rises into pounding percussion and vocals as Miraz is crowned and the Telmarines march to war. The strings are the really notable thing here: frantic and rhythmic, they do a very good job of expressing the dark tone. About two minutes in the pounding theme dissolves into a more subtle and sinister one. This could play in any number of scenes during the film. It's possible it plays during the scene where the Narnians return from the castle raid and Peter and Caspian have their falling out.
7 - Sorcery and Sudden Vengeance : Another one of my favorite tracks! The music starts very ominous as Nikabrik lures Caspian into the stone table room. With sinister strings, deep piano and percussion, it eventually breaks into these impressive baritone vocals. They add a lot to this track, as do the thunder-like electronic percussion as the hag and werewolf enter. This bit continues to build until the White Witch appears and we hear soft, eerie vocals. At four minutes the theme becomes a much more powerful version of the battle theme from the previous film as the Pevensies show up and fight Nikabrik, the hag and werewolf. Eventually the music hits a crescendo when Edmund breaks the ice wall and then it calms down and fades out.
8 - The Duel : This track begins quietly as Edmund goes to present Miraz with Peter's challenge. The percussive music is filled out with sweeping strings and a light chime sound in the background. It builds into the duel itself between Peter and Miraz and becomes much more tense. It then switches to Susan staying behind to hold off the Telmarines while Lucy escapes. A mournful flute version of the Pevensie theme plays and then builds dramatically as Susan fights. At three minutes fifty the tone completely changes as Caspian arrives and saves her to a snatch of his theme. Then we return to the duel where Miraz's theme has taken over in all its pounding and sinister glory. Five minutes in it fades down and becomes anxious again as Peter sees Caspian return with one of his sisters and Miraz calls a break. The track finishes with a quiet cue for Peter's weariness and concern.
9 - The Armies Assemble : Beginning abruptly as Miraz is stabbed by one of his own men, this track serves to give a nice preview of the coming battle themes and builds that tension very well. Again strings are the prevailing instrument, fast-paced and driving as the two sides prepare for battle and Peter and Edmund stand their ground against the approaching army. The track builds deliberately and then breaks at the charge.
10 - Battle at Aslan's How : Starting off at once this track is an incredible showcase of the new epic themes. Almost immediately Caspian's theme builds in the background, probably as he and the Narnians break the ground from beneath the Telmarines' feet. It's difficult to know where everything falls in this track as well, but it canvases most of the battle while reprising the Pevensies' theme, the old battle themes from the first film, and a lot of the new Caspian theme. This last takes center stage with rising strings and epic sweeps which dive into sinister vocals as the battle starts to turn out of the Narnian's favor. Caspian's theme does return, however now it is more anxious as things continue to go downhill. Eventually this culminates in a theme very similar to the one at the siege on the castle, bringing back bad memories of their previous defeat. It turns over suddenly into the triumphant theme from the first film (where Aslan appears at the battle with Susan and Lucy). We then return to driving strings as Lucy races through the woods alone. It fades down suddenly at the end as Aslan appears in front of her.
11 - Return of the Lion : A really standout track! It begins with the tense cue where a Telmarine hesitates before killing Caspian. Almost immediately it turns into a new epic theme as the trees arrive and attack the Telmarines. Poetically, this theme is not a fully percussive piece like the others. Instead, its moving strings and sweeping vocals constructing a powerful melody as the Narnians rush back into the battle with new fervor. After the Telmarines retreat to the river, it becomes very quiet as a lone woodwind instrument plays and Lucy appears on the other side of the bridge. The Telmarines' theme returns suddenly as they start to cross the bridge. This turns over into a broader variation of the Pevensies' royal theme as the river god appears and sweeps down on the Telmarines. It becomes more driving as the river god lifts the bridge out of the water, and finally fades into quiet strings as the water settles.
12 - The Door in the Air : This track picks up almost exactly where the last one left off, and covers the entire rest of the film's score. Aslan's theme returns with very quiet piano and strings as he addresses Caspian. A minute in, the music switches to a truly sweet theme with plinking piano and a high melodic horn that sounds almost like a voice -- this is where Lucy heals Reepicheep. The strings and piano build after that and change to a cue identical to the one in the first film where we first see Cair Paravel, although now it plays during the scene where Trumpkin finally sees Aslan. At the crescendo it changes to a new triumphant theme with full and soaring strings while the children and Caspian ride through the streets. As night turns to day and Caspian sees Aslan talking to Peter and Susan, a mournful trumpet solo signifies the change in tone and for a while it seems it has calmed down for good. Quiet strings accompany the flute and Aslan offers a new start to the Telmarines. The piano and vocals return at about five minutes ten when the tree parts and the Telmarines disappear through it. Emotional strings and harp play while Peter and Susan explain they will not be coming back to Narnia. The flute joins in and the last minute or so of the track accompanies Peter and Lucy saying goodbye to their friends. The theme ends on a more cheerful note, but there is still a bittersweet string line in the background that suits the mood.
13 - The Call (Regina Spektor) : I love this song very much! It reminds me of the end of the film and I really enjoyed how it was played through the ending scene. Regina Spektor's voice was another excellent choice for the unique female vocals that fit so well with Narnia score. It is a tradition I hope will continue through all the films. I liked the lyrics as well, they suited the tenor of the last scene without being completely sad. One thing that should be mentioned, however, is that this is not the exact version from the film; mostly because the music in the middle is different. It doesn't hurt the song itself though.
14 - A Dance `Round the Memory Tree (Oren Lavie) : I'm afraid I can't be as enthusiastic about this song. After Regina's precise and flowing voice, this just seemed like too much of a downer. The music was pretty enough, but I'm afraid Mr. Lavie's voice is just too gloomy. It might have made a better third song than second.
15 - This Is Home (Switchfoot) : I do like this song quite a bit, but unfortunately I had already heard the original version and this seemed a little too slow by comparison. That being said, the lyrics are excellent and the lead singer's voice did a very nice job of representing the characters. It is a very good song, but I probably would have put this one after Regina's and before Oren`s; I think it would have flowed better.
16 - Lucy (Hanne Hukkelberg) : I'm not quite sure why this song is here because it wasn't in the film. In any case, I liked the music quite a lot, the piano and chimes were very nice and Hanne's voice is very unique, but the actual tone of the song is a little odd. Still, it's not a bad song all things considered.
Harry Gregson-Williams : Returning to a deliver another incredible score, Harry Gregson-Williams had a lot to do on this project. With a sequel score there is a lot that must be done to keep people's interest: one thing is not abandoning old themes in favor of new, but the equally important thing is to create enough new material to keep it from being redundant. I think he has done both of these things exceptionally well. The very different tone of Prince Caspian, as a darker film with more difficulty and death, was represented beautifully through the score. The Pevensies' main theme made you keep the first film in mind, but there were also many new themes; most notably Caspian's, Miraz's and the epic themes. These added new and different elements. Most of all I was impressed by how full the music sounded and how many nuances could be found in each track. It's a shame that he will not be doing the soundtrack for the next film, but hopefully many of these themes can be retained by the next composer. In the meanwhile I will be interested to see what other projects Harry Gregson-Williams will do in the future.
Notable Absences : As last time, there are a few moments of score that were missing from the soundtrack. I don't think any of them especially detracted from the overall feel of the soundtrack, but its good to keep them in mind.
Train Song Reprise - This played when the children first arrived in Narnia. It was an exact reprise of the Lisbeth Scott song while the children are in the train.
A Narnian Lullaby Reprise - This played just barely before the children first see the stone table again. It was probably cut because it was isolated in between scenes.
Flying to the Castle - This plays during the scene where the Narnians, led by Caspian, Peter and the others, arrive at Miraz's castle. It includes mostly themes used before or later, so the only sad loss is the horn cue of Reepicheep's theme.
Altogether : This soundtrack presents a darker and more epic tone, but it is most definitely still Narnia. The moment the opening credits began over Caspian fleeing his home on horseback, I knew I was in Narnia because the score told me so. This score was definitely a success and I would recommend it to soundtrack lovers, and fans of the first soundtrack alike -- you won`t be disappointed.