McCartney.jpgMcCARTNEY: Ecce Cor Meum. Kate Royal, soprano. Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields/Gavin Greenaway. EMI DVD 5099950073399. 67 minutes.

It probably counts as a truism to say that Paul McCartney is one of the finest melodists popular music has produced. Popular music is often largely about melody, with the other parameters of the art usually playing a secondary rí´le.

The melodies in McCartney’s hour-long Ecce Cor Meum (“Behold My Heart”, for soprano solo, chorus, and orchestra; text by the composer) are not nearly as memorable as those in his best songs. It seems as though he had a preconceived notion about what “classical” melodies should sound like and how they should be shaped. He wrote accordingly, and the result is somewhat forced and artificial.

As to the other niceties of “classical” composition, McCartney falls back on the standard tools of the inexperienced composer””pedals, sequences, and ostinatos. In this way his melodies are given the means to play out into a lengthy composition. The harmony, rhythm, and orchestration of the piece are pretty standard late 20th-century neo-tonal, with a hint of English pastoralism.

At the beginning of the film, before the performance begins, the composer enters the Royal Albert Hall and is greeted like, well, a rock star. (I wonder if he gets as tired of that happening at his concerts as I do at mine.)

Soprano Kate Royal has a fine, full voice and a winning stage presence. The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Orchestra, led by Gavin Greenaway, does its usual bang up job, as do the massed choruses involved. A brief documentary on the creation of Ecce Cor Meum, in which the composer discusses his limitations as a composer (as opposed to a songwriter), dramatically illustrates just how well one can get by with a little help from their friends.

3 Responses to “DVD: Paul McCartney, Ecce Cor Meum
  1. P. AGUILERA says:

    7/19/008 WATCHED THIS MOST WONDWEFULL CONCERT ON PBS AND WAS MOST DELIGHTED WITH THIS PIECE. ONCE AGAIN SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY SURPRISES ME AND WARMS MY HEART WITH THIS MAJICAL AND HEAVENLY ARRANGMENT. I PRAY THAT GOD GIVE’S HIM CONTINUED GOOD HEALTH AND MANY MORE YEARS TO BLESS THIS WORLD WITH HIS BEAUTIFUL MUSIC. I WILL STAY TUNED.

  2. J.C. Combs says:

    I would buy a McCartney “classical” work if it was comprised of old Beatles remakes. If he started from the first album and did variations on each song and progressed to each later album, which would show a maturity in his composition. The later Beatles works become experimental even by today’s standards of pop, and a variation in an atonal, freeform or microtonal variety could be interesting.

  3. bxsmith@ucsc.edu says:

    As a re-entry university student at 55, I cannot help but wonder for those who find PM not up to snuff I wager they are ‘armchair experts’ on the past but know very little about the REAL risk involved while embarking into new dimensions such as PM risked here with his team. Not only was he willing to gamble but the attributes of character stayed the course under so great a global expectation. Cheers to you, Sir.

  4.  
Leave a Reply

*

Comment spam protected by SpamBam