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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2003
Film soundtracks are a strange animal: some work only if you've seen the film, whilst others don't require this. The soundtrack to "The Hours" is definitely the latter.
If you have seen the brilliant film, you will be more than aware of the haunting and achingly beautiful music that accompanies the wonderful acting, intelligent script and visual imagery that is "The Hours". Even if you haven't seen it - and you should! - Philip Glass's soundtrack is a must.
Fans of Glass's work will buy this regardless; other customers will find themselves in possession of a CD containing music of sheer beauty. Since buying this wonderful soundtrack, it has become a near-permanent resident in my CD player. And that is no bad thing.
So, what do you get for your money? Glorious, evocative music, beautiful packaging, and some of the best sleeve notes and design I have seen for some time. Even the pefectionist Virginia Woolf would approve, I fear!
Highly recommended.
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on 22 June 2011
I rarely buy film soundtracks: I had some notion that music recorded like this would somehow be a slightly inferior product of a studio soundstage. I suppose this may have been true once upon a time, but it's far from an accurate description nowadays. The production of a modern film and the addition of the music track has come a long way since Gone With The Wind! The audio quality of film soundtracks is on a par with the best digital albums you can buy and the performers are musicians of the highest order. Nowhere is this more evident than the masterful soundtrack to the 2002 movie The Hours.

The music is by Philip Glass and I have to admit my ignorance in knowing nothing of his music till I saw this powerful, monumental film. I'd never even actually heard of him! Since then, I've collected other music, including a Violin Concerto as well as more film soundtracks. The Hours is a perfect union of soundtrack and screen - the music doesn't just accompany the drama, it is part of it. I just had to download the MP3 album and I've listened to it again and again. I believe there's a CD version too.

The film depicts the lives of three women, all seemingly unconnected: the British writer Virginia Woolf, and two more recent women living in the US, Clarissa Vaughn and Laura Brown. It's a complex tale about internalised psychological crises with the unifying theme of 'Mrs Dalloway' (the title of a novel by Woolf) connecting the stories in a most interesting and deeply symbolic way.

Clearly a film of this complexity and calibre - it stars Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep - demands a pretty well-conceived and meaningful music score. Glass not only provides it but it almost inspires the whole movie, I think. The soundtrack is based around the scenes in the film but each piece of music has almost a separate musical identity. The pieces illuminate and frame each scene in the film in such an incredibly powerful and moving manner; so appropriate to the drama itself. It is nearly impossible to imagine this film without the music, though the music without the film is indeed conceivable.

In fact, the real beauty of this soundtrack album is that you don't need to have seen The Hours at all to appreciate it. It stands alone as a great piece of music, a symphony in 14 movements. That could seldom be said about a film soundtrack, if you think about it.

It is difficult to identify my favourite track because I've watched this film several times and I have strong associations with the sequence of the storyline. Each piece tends to lend authenticity to the subsequent one. But, nevertheless, 3 tracks in particular made a big impression: Why Does Someone Have To Die?, I'm Going To Make A Cake, and the ultra-powerful closing credits.

Each section is a separate composition, but with no distinct beginning and end points (it is incidental music, after all). Glass uses his characteristic repetitive motifs, mainly minor chords with resolving cadences, building to a climax in some sections. He deploys solo piano and various sizes of string orchestra. The musicians are anonymous but really excellent and, as I suggested earlier, everything was digitally recorded, mixed and edited before being 'cut in' to the final visual edits.

I highly recommend this album, and the film, by the way. though it could be a bit sombre for some people.
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VINE VOICEon 13 January 2004
I read the book. I watched the film and I was amazed how the Glass music "fixed" the film so well. I thought that the book was unfilmable until I saw the film and a really strong part of its success is how the music tells you where you are. Not since the great Bernard Herrman enhanced the films of Alfred Hitchcock have I heard a score that is such an integral part of the film itself. As a piece of Glass music it stands by itself so I hope that a suite from The Hours will soon be heard in recital. I can not speak too highly of this amazingly charged recording.
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on 14 June 2005
This review comes late, but having recently heard the Riesman piano CD of the same soundtrack, and reviewing it, I feel that I should offer my take on the original. The 'new' piano version has made me realise how much I find this recording to be one of Mr Glass's most emotionally charged pieces, and a fitting accompaniment to a magnificent film.
A combination of rich string arrangements and Michael Riesman's piano provide a pulsating, melodic and poignant soundtrack that made all the difference to the movie. Everything seems very restrained, yet everything is powerful in the music - there is a sense of drive and purpose that arises from gentle beginnings. Five stars.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 November 2015
I took a punt buying this soundtrack as a fan of Philip Glass and was not disappointed.

Glass is on form producing an exceptional album which is easy on the ear and quite beautifully composed.

Soundtracks can often be a challenging affair but this is quite the opposite - highly recommended for all the right reasons.
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on 18 July 2006
It must be said without a doubt that Glass made the film 'The Hours' with the music score. Without it, this would not have produced what the film is. It has true meaning to it. Everytime i listen to it i feel a sense of sadness and loss, but at the same time, an overwhelmly sense of relief to know what life really is about. What decisions we take is up to us. This music score protrays all of that.

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on 25 January 2004
I have several Philip Glass CDs but this is my favourite. It's beautiful, haunting music in its own right but when one has seen the film it becomes remarkable. Glass's music perfectly captures the themes of the film: of coming to terms with mortality in both of its aspects, living and dying. Glass also manages to write music that is both timeless and yet captures the three time periods in which the book and film are set. Like several of Glass's works, music for The Hours seems to ripple over one. One feels in it rather than listening from the outside. This is a great work from one of our greatest comtemporary composers.
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on 25 February 2003
Last night I watched The Hours. What was most notable about the film, from a sound perspective, was that as the credits rolled, I listened to a beautiful piece of music. One that I had clearly heard before, but was hearing in a way I had not heard before.... What came to me was that the mastery of this soundtrack was how it was unnoticable. Every scene, every emotion, tension, light relief; was communicated by sound, by a score that exactly replicated what was seen and felt on screen, so perfectly, it became unnoticable. Until that final moment where the genius of it came to light. As the credits rolled. I have never seen or heard sound and picture fused with this level of awareness and heart.
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on 27 August 2006
Philip Glass has written some wonderful film scores (Koyaanisqatsi, Mishima, Kundun) but I was absolutely blown away by his score for 'The Hours'. Every single cue is a gem culminating in the final one (track 14) where the music arcs from a slow beginning to a glorious climax where piano chords play against a wash of strings. The music is at once uplifting and melancholic. A masterpiece.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 January 2011
This 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.

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 own 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............
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