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Philip GLASS Dracula A new score for the 1931 Bela Lugosi classic . Performed by the Kronos Quartet NONESUCH 7559 79584 2 [67:04]
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This is a new score for the classic Bela Lugosi Dracula film made by Universal back in 1931. I am reviewing the score on its purely musical terms in this review. A separate review of the video looks at the aptness of Glass's music for the film.

Following on from Herrmann's Psycho score, Glass has chosen to use a monochromatic score utilising just strings, and the close, limited configuration of a quartet for this Gothic black and white film. Glass's minimalistic style is prevalent but he uses multi-part writing, many string playing techniques, considerably varied colours, dynamics and shadings, abrupt gear changes or smoother modulations to sustain the interest. And yet, after about 40 minutes, I have to admit I felt tedium setting in because of the relentless repetiton of like material. This album would have been more effective for some ruthless editing coupled with a judicious choice of material.

The album opens with the main Dracula theme: dark swirling, demented and tormented figures supporting screeching and piercing high-pitched staccato chords. The evocative and atmospheric cues work well: cantering, galloping figures for the 'Journey to the Inn', the swiftly shifting textures suggesting violent gales for 'The Storm' and the swirling dense motifs for 'London Fog' with its hints of hidden menaces. A dark, dank and creaky immensity is suggested by the music for 'The Castle' and the disturbing high-pitched glissandi denote only too well the 'Horrible Tragedy.' I thought the evocation of 'The Three Consorts of Dracula' was rather bland and could have been more alluring after all they are supposed to seduce their male victims but the 'Women in White' suggests some sympathy for these condemned creatures. 'Excellent, Mr Renfield' impressed in as much as it suggested a conversation piece with Renfield prattling on about the legalities of the sale he has come to Dracula's castle to negotiate while Dracula looks on with more bloody thoughts on his mind. 'Lucy's Bitten' brings out the more colourfully melodramatic with Glass pointing up all the fear and anguish and almost panic of the discovery of the affects Dracula's dining session. An interesting experiment.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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