Philip GLASS (b. 1937)
rec. Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, Marin County, California, August 1998
ORANGE MOUNTAIN MUSIC OMM0111 [66.17]
This is a reissue, not, as would first seem to be the case, a first issue.
The original was issued by Nonesuch (Nonesuch 79542), and, although the CD
is no longer available, parts can be heard online on the Nonesuch website.
No notes are provided, to explain the provenance of the work. Facts in this
review have been gleaned from elsewhere, but this listener, at least, is
never a happy bunny when basic information is not given.
But that is not a reason not to enjoy the issue. This is music for the
film of Dracula, not as part of an original film score, as with Wojciech
Kilar's superb score to the 1992 Francis Ford Coppola film of the story.
Glass was commissioned to provide a live accompaniment to the 1931 Bela
Lugosi film. His comment was: "Dracula is considered a classic. I felt the
score needed to evoke the feeling of the world of the 19th
century - for that reason I decided a string quartet would be the most
evocative and effective. I wanted to stay away from the obvious effects
associated with horror films. With Kronos we were able to add depth to the
emotional layers of the film." The result is an enjoyable work
characteristic of Glass compositions of the nineties. There is recourse to
the usual pulsating rhythms, but also sensitivity, notably in '"Excellent,
Mr. Renfield"'and 'In the Theatre.' 'Women in White' is very striking, not
least for the varied effects over a single pulse, a little more animated
than 'In the Theatre', with a touch of menace in rising and falling figures
for the cello.
There is a rival recording of the Suite from Dracula
complete soundtrack) from the Carluccio Quartet on Naxos 8.559766.
Performances of eight movements are generally a little more spacious than
those on the Kronos CD, and no less dramatic. The Naxos coupling is
excellent - the Fifth Quartet and a String Sextet arrangement of the Third
The fuller Kronos recording has many merits as echt
the music itself, while very attractive, does not - for this listener, at
least - much enhance our knowledge of the composer's development. But, if
you like Glass, it will give much pleasure.