for (In Krakow)

It was an evening of World premiere yesterday at Krakow Film Music Festival with the presentation of F.F. Coppola’s 1992 Gothic horror film Dracula accompanied Live by the Polish Radio Choir and the Beethoven Academy orchestra under the direction of Don ‘Matrix’ Davis.

For two days in a row, after the fantastic Chorale Cinema opening, it was also, for artistic director Robert Piaskowski, another dream come true after years of efforts. Way ahead he asked Maestro Wojciech Kilar, the composer of the score who was still with us at the time, if such concert would be possible. Kilar himself thought it would be technically a difficult task. He doubted his score sheet would still be available. And it took years of work and research.  First to locate the complete music sheets, buried in Columbia pictures crypt. They could finally see the light of day again, thanks to co-producer, master digger and vampire slayer Robert Townson. Rights and prints were secured, producing partners, FIMUCITE and European Philharmonic Institute, provided the stakes and garlic.

While I was never totally overwhelmed by the film itself since its original release and to this day, the overall aesthetic, thanks to the combine work of production designer Thomas E. Sanders and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, is quite effective.

The other strong point of Dracula being Kilar’s lavish music.

During post production, Coppola mingled with important parts of the recorded score through the editing process. And the transcript for the show follows the path of the director’s artistic choices, not the recent expanded release of the score on Belgian label La la Land. (see: One can imagine the arranger of this live show, Thomas Bryla, who did a tremendous job, getting some headaches in trying to fit in, in the live mode, some changeovers that musically speaking are not totally coherent due to these cuts. The team and players of the concert were certainly up for the task.  In some parts, for instance the Main theme fades out and other musical cues (as leitmotiv) fade in. This was exceptionally well performed making it sound like a mix.

We got pristine crisp and heavy rumbling spectacular orchestral sound and resonance as intended by Mr Kilar. Performances were solid.

My only minor deception is the handling of short cues that involved, in the film’s original mix, takes of Avant Garde artist Diamanda Galas (credited distinctively as ‘special vocal performances by’ in the End credits, music Department, and later in the credits with ‘Exoloum‘ performed by Diamanda Galas, courtesy of… ). When I inquired about it at the panel about the production, the next day, Bryla referred to Exoloum, which he transcribed, but not the takes she made specially for the film…we all missed that one that has such a gruesome violent  impact on the CD…

Question is, can someone imitate Galas’ distinctive voice of the Devil anyway (it is why they booked her in the first) and was it stuck into the mix of the film with other sound effects to make it sound like the voices of the maids? Only Francis and the sound department know.

But ultimately everyone did a fantastic job, Bryla is a great arranger.

The aim was to highlight the quality and effectiveness of this monumental, but sometimes overlooked,  score and the very long standing ovation at the end was also sweet (suite?) music.

If it comes your way, just grab the chance. FMF did it to share it. A Major Cine concert!

Wojciech Rules!