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Paul McCartney: Ecce cor meum

Audio Samples

>McCartney, Paul : Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart), oratorio

Album Summary

>McCartney, Paul : Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart), oratorio
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

McCartney instinctively did what many great classical composers have done before him: start with the music, and then look for a subject that fits. His gift for a tune has not deserted him. Several memorable melodies appear during the hour-long oratorio and bind it together. "One of the things that led me into the classical end of things... was the fact that a lot of people used to take The Beatles' melodies and stretch them - this is how Bach or Beethoven or Schubert would have used them." -McCartney The plainchant-like opening of "Spiritus" makes this spiritual connection clear. Sopranos intone the words which form the central theme of the whole work: "Lead us to love... Teach us how to find love." The use of time-honored Latin in some parts suggests, perhaps, that the act of discovery is one of recovering what has always been there.

Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart) is the fourth classical based work created by Paul McCartney for EMI Classics. This compelling new work is an Oratorio scored for choir, soprano and orchestra in four movements, each beginning with unaccompanied voices with text combining both English and Latin. The music is full of color and drama and, of course, a wealth of glorious melody for which Paul McCartney is so well known.

Notes & Reviews:

Ecce Cor Meum ("Behold My Heart" in Latin) is Paul McCartney's fourth album of classical music and his second oratorio, following Liverpool Oratorio of 1991. Like that piece, it was commissioned, in this case by Anthony Smith, then president of Magdalen College at Oxford University, who was looking for a work to christen a new concert hall. As so often happens with commissions, the composition took much longer than intended, eight years, in fact, with work interrupted for other projects and by McCartney's tumultuous personal life, which included the death of his first wife, Linda McCartney, and his meeting, marrying, and separating from his second. According to producer John Fraser, as quoted by annotator Peter Quantrill, it was the earlier event that most affected the work: "The loss of Linda is suffused throughout the piece." If so, that would explain some of the more melancholy passages, notably the brief Interlude (Lament) that comes in the middle of the work. Death also is apparent in the final section, Ecce Cor Meum itself, which contains lyrics commenting on separation. But McCartney's sunnier nature is also apparent throughout. The hourlong choral work sounds appropriate to its commission; it would fit in well in either a concert hall or church, sung by an adult and boys' choir. Most of McCartney's lyrics are generalized expressions of love and, as the opening section puts it, Spiritus, rather than God specifically. There are moments that pop fans will recognize, certain familiar melodic motifs and instrumental sounds. For example, McCartney's affection for the piccolo trumpet, first revealed on "Penny Lane," is explored further. Ecce Cor Meum is not a great new choral work. It is unlikely, as Smith hoped, to be "sung by young people the world over in the same way that Handel's Messiah is." But on its own terms, it is a successful minor piece of classical music. ~ William Ruhlmann


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Works Details

>McCartney, Paul : Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart), oratorio
  • Performers: Mark Law (Piccolo Trumpet); David Theodore (Oboe); Paul McCartney (Voice); Kate Royal (Voice); Colm Carey (Organ)
  • Conductor: Gavin Greenaway
  • Ensemble: Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
  • Notes: This selection is sung in English and Latin.
  • Running Time: 56 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2006
  • Studio/Live: Studio