Musicians sink creative teeth into 'Dracula'

The last time Philip Glass came to the Lied Center, he brought along his "Monsters of Grace," a work skewered by some critics. Thursday night, he returned to the Lied with the Kronos Quartet to present "Dracula: The Music and Film," which set his original score against the 1931 horror movie classic.

It was a meeting of the living and the undead that gave birth to Glass' most accessible and enjoyable work.

"Dracula," with Bela Lugosi in all his hypnotic-eyed glory, was shown on a scrim (sort of a see-through screen) with the musicians behind it. Special lighting was used so that keyboardist Glass and the Kronos Quartet � David Harrington and John Sherba, violins; Hank Dutt, viola; Jennifer Culp, cello; and Michael Riesman, keyboards � could be seen frequently throughout the movie.

At first, the double imagery was distracting but soon the live and the recorded melded together seamlessly. The interaction between the musicians and the movie characters sparked laughter when a hand stretched from beneath a coffin lid and seemed to grasp at the viola and cello players sitting nearby.

When a stake was driven through Dracula's heart, a gush of blood-red light washed over the musicians. The effect was stunning.

Glass wrote the "Dracula" score with the Kronos Quartet in mind because he thought they would be up to the challenge. He was absolutely right. The group's technical skills and sixth-sense for interpreting the music were demonstrated throughout the 90-minute work. Together, they created the sweeping, swirling feel of an ocean storm and the tension laden-moment when the deep-voiced count utters, "I'm Dracula."

At one point in the movie, Dracula seemingly looks toward the musicians and proclaims, "Listen to them, children of the night. What music they make." We couldn't have said it better.

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