A superb ballet, with colourful and very resourceful scoring and some powerful special effects that take the listener into the nightmare world of Count Dracula. The Prologue, a summary of Harker's visit to Transylvania, introduces the ballet: a throbbing, barely audible heartbeat, a sinister tapping, cymbalom riffs and a ghostly insistent figure on the piano. The main Dracula theme - a nagging four note figure - emerges, a theme that is interwoven with other music in an essentially symphonic score: it can be seen, transformed, in the otherwise innocent salon music in the Grand Hotel Whitby movement (Track 5). The rest of Act I traces Harker's journey from the normality of Charing Cross to Transylvania, with its exotic rhythms - and a virtuoso clarinet solo - to Castle Dracula, where the unfortunate Harker is drawn inexorably into the control of the Count and the three vampire women, a scene that ends in a spine chilling scream.
Acts 2 and 3 are no less inventive, telling the story of Dracula's arrival in England, and culminating in the Crypt of Carfax Abbey, where the composer deploys a chorus of women's voices to add to the atmosphere of mounting horror.
Some really outstanding playing by the Northern Ballet Orchestra. A listener who is familiar with the outlines of Bram Stoker's novel will find this easy enough to follow, even without the dance - this is one of those rare ballets that works, and works well, on the purely musical plane.
I've recently bought this album and have never heard any of Feeney's music before, but his approach to the story of Dracula has inspired me greatly. I've never been a fan of ballet music, yet his music really seems to bring it to life; the freshness of the sound, not only thanks to the composer but also the orchestra and recorders, adds greatly to this brilliant sound created. I'll certainly be looking out for more works by the composer!
This work is incredible. Anyone who knows the story or has seen the movie will be able to replay it in their heads every time you put this on. Feeney is a genius! I recently saw this ballet in Denver, CO and it was astounding In April they are performing The Hunchback of Notre Dame also by this composer and can't wait to see it!! BRAVO FEENEY!!!