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An excellent introduction to the Glass World

Glass_HoursThis CD stands alone in its own right, as well as a beautifully apt score to a movie. Most of the Glass hallmarks are there, the repetitions, the slow building of change, the shimmering dissonance, the beautiful, yearning melodic musicality, but packaged in more bite sized morsels, piece on piece, to fit the demands of a film score. And moreover a film which perfectly is attuned to the reflective, interior, plangent and yearning landscape which Glass often inhabits.

The more I steep myself in Glass’s music (and I’m pretty steeped in it!) the more I find myself questioning the use of the term minimalist or minimalism to describe his music. I find him an intensely romantic musician, and this music in particular is romantic in the way that Rachmaninov’s music is romantic – lyrical, melodic, with the arc of a musical line very clear, and with a blue, often minor key unresolved longing built into it.

The Hours is particularly fine in hinting at subtexts below the sometimes busy dynamics of a piece – listen to ‘I’m Going To Make A Cake’ for an example, where there are phrases of turbulence and activity, quite unsettling, and simultaneously something deep, slow, sorrowful and painful in the theme. Very apt for acting as counterpoint to the women’s lives (in the film/book) where there is actually huge drama and intensity going on, but its driven by interior landscape.

I like the video someone made of this, which rather captures something large, beautiful, mysterious – but also terrifying going on – like a meaning which can’t be grasped, caught on the edge of potential annihilation, but, maybe something new, some wondrous creation about to arise. I find myself on the edge of drowning in despair and expanding into promise with this particular piece – an ‘on the edge’, can go either way, piece of music, which potently illustrated the interior of the character in the movie, in a heartbreaking, heart making, scene

This is Glass for when I need a Glassfix but don’t have the time to listen to a 20 minute piece, as each track here has is Glass Hoursown completion, as well as being part of a whole. Except that, as always with his music, I end up wanting more, so arrive late at my destination…………

Philip Glass – The Hours Amazon UK
Philip Glass – The Hours Amazon USA