Philip Glass Dracula, performed by Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch)

Dracula, performed by Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch)

Record Reviews

Philip Glass

Dracula, performed by Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch)

Perhaps he's so terrifying because he represents our potential for evil, the incarnation of our collective dark side. That, and the fact he drinks fresh human blood. Either way, even the name -- Dracula -- rubs sandpaper on your spine. The original, 1931 celluloid interpretation of Bram Stoker's tale of physical and psychological cannibalism had an appropriate, but undistinguished, musical score, which is why Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet (Joan Jeanrenaud on cello, Hank Dutt on viola, and violinists John Sherba and David Harrington) were commissioned to bolster the re-release of this monster classic. The soundtrack album follows the Depression-era film nearly blow-by-blow, especially within the first half hour. "Excellent, Mr. Renfield" flows with foreboding prescience, an evil aural omen for the luckless businessman who, after Dracula's bite, must suck the lifeblood from insects and rats in order to survive. "The Crypt" goes expertly with the emergence of Dracula and his three undead consorts from their subterranean slumber boxes, while some tracks, like "Carriage Without a Driver," are actually more terror-inducing than their accompanying black-and-white footage. Glass' score, and equally Kronos' reading, is like Bela Lugosi's onscreen realization of Nosferatu: understated, bold, and effective. This particular marriage of Glass and Kronos, like their expert collaboration of the 1985 Mishima soundtrack, stands tall on its own.

****

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