Ecce Cor Meum Import
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|1. I Spiritus|
|2. II Gratia|
|3. Interlude (Lament)|
|4. III Musica|
|5. IV Ecce|
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.
Paul McCartney's new "classical" oratorio is called Ecce Cor Meum, which translates as "Behold My Heart." The idealistic texts, also by McCartney, are meditations on goodness, spirituality, peace, and love, and are well served by the pretty, Romantic melodies; the long choral and orchestral sections flow one into the next. The Interlude (composed after the death of his wife, Linda), with its lovely oboe solo, is simple and moving. The music builds throughout to an emotional climax and the entrance of the organ later in the work--beautifully played and handsomely recorded--is quite remarkable. This is a far more advanced work than 1991's Liverpool Oratorio: better orchestrated, more through-composed. No, it's not the last word in compositional sophistication, but it has many beautiful moments, and McCartney's legions of fans will need to own it. --Robert Levine
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Paul has proved to be a musical peer among many, including Tony Bennett with whom he does an excellent duet; those well established in choral work such as Walton, Bax and others of their caliber.
Never able to dodge that Beatle influence which has long become part of so many other songs and forms of music, Paul appears to embrace it. He plays Beatle songs at all of his concerts and even this vastly different collection retains just a hint of that old Beatle magic that made Paul a household name.
By that I mean that Paul remains true to his musical muse; his songs are identified by his warm, ballad-like style and soft sentimentality that softens the cynical edges of an otherwise jaded world. He breathes fresh life and animus into this music; it is this coupled with his own style that pull it off effectively.
One thing that struck me about this poignant collection is the strong spiritual aspect. Paul McCartney maintains an optimistic outlook while beseeching people to look to their goodness within.
This is a very serious collection. This is, I believe, Paul McCartney's core values and beliefs. It is this seeking, finding and reinforcing the goodness in ourselves and others that makes this so unique.
This is a collection that you will want to have. It is very soothing and some of the songs make me think of the Christmas Mass.
Paul McCartney is like his own 1967 classic - getting better all the time. This work is proof positive of that.
It's incredibly beautiful in composition and production.
Paul continues to outdo himself, and shows what a truly masterful sonfwriter he is. Movement II (Gratia) is my favorite. I play it continually, and it never fails to hit a spiritual nerve in my body.
This is an excellent album by the world's foremost songwriter.
Long live Sir Paul!
That's a good comparison for McCartney's oratorio here. There are passages that are quite effective, and nicely done; here and there, for thirty seconds or so at a time, you think hey, this isn't bad. The problem is that this piece lasts a full hour, and like those SNL skits it just doesn't hold up when expanded to these proportions. There's no formal or structural integrity, no large-scale dramatic rise and fall, or ebb and flow. Rather, we have the simple song forms with which McCartney is familiar (AABA, etc.) expanded ad absurdum (AAAAAAABBBBAAAAAA, etc.).
One of my convictions about lengthy musical works is that they must justify their own duration. There has to be a really good and self-evident reason for piece of music to last twenty, forty, or sixty minutes, for it is entirely possible to present a thoroughly satisfying musical experience (to present multiple musical ideas, develop them, bring a sense of resolution towards the end, and close things out) inside of three or four minutes. This can be seen in the best popular songwriting, in a great deal of jazz improvisation, in classical miniatures such as the Chopin etudes and nocturnes for piano, etc. Ecce Cor Meum wholly fails on this count, then: there is simply no good reason for it to last so long, no skillful development of ideas or meaningful build and then release of dramatic tension.
Furthermore, while there are indeed some effective passages here, a great deal of the writing is also flat and artless. McCartney does not and cannot write counterpoint, which is the essence of choral music; instead, Ecce Cor Meum utilizes a sort of a lead singer/backup singers construction, like what you'd expect to find in a pop song. Occasionally there's a little call and response, a few instances of two- or three-part voice leading, but otherwise the choral and orchestral textures are simplistic and empty. It's such a wasted opportunity to gather a choir of hundreds of voices, as McCartney does here, only to have them all singing pretty much the same thing at the same time.
I really don't mean to be too harsh. There's nothing WRONG with this music. It isn't unpleasant. But in tackling a form like the oratorio, McCartney is placing himself in direct comparison to history's master composers and great musical geniuses, and unfortunately he falls far, far short of them. For all its pleasant moments this is vapid, uneventful music.
In the case of "serious" music, though, it is like any work of art. It is done by understanding the medium and understanding the progress of the art itself.
McCartney's attempt at a serious work falls short in most every respect. It is dull and colorless with occasional tender moments. An extended passage involving the oboe was particularly poignant. Otherwise the repetitiveness of the work makes for rather difficult sustained listening.
In his program notes, the composer seemed to think that lack of formal training in music, even with notation, was an asset rather than a liability. We beg to differ. The understanding of the dynamics of harmony, rhythm and melody in the course of a large work is as important to the composer as color and its use is to a painter.
Having to write 40-45 minutes of orchestral and choral music is a whole lot different than 32 bars of, say, "Michelle" or "Will You Still Love Me When I'm 64?" (Which of course we always will, Paul!)
Even a master composer like George Gershwin was limited, albeit much more successful, in his attempts at larger works. That said, there is hope of McCartney. I'd like to see more from his pen.