I am 23, I am a musician on the side (no longer in any band, sadly, and a massive Beatles, Lennon, Harrison, and McCartney fan. I love instrumental music (classical is a very misleading term) so this is right up my alley. I apologize if my review isn't laid out perfectly or if I repeat myself. I'm writing this around 6AM.
To start, I'd like to say that I disagree with the reviewer who seems to think that simplicity in music is, by nature, always a fault. I can assure you that it is not. (Also, simplicity needs to be defined before we can argue its merits and disadvantages) Paul has written hundreds of songs for guitar, bass, and piano/keyboard. They are not technically the hardest, most finger-tying, mind-bending parts but do we all still love and adore them? Oh, yes. Paul isn't a good piano player by most standards but his music as a whole makes his supposed lack of technicality irrelevant. Tell me that you don't go around humming "Eleanor Rigby", that you don't enjoy "Too Much Rain", that you don't exalt gems like "Jet" and "Band on the Run" (or my personal favorite from The Firemen, "Sing the Changes." The same goes for this piece, it may not use the full orchestra most of the time, but you don't necessarily need to. It's beautiful anyway.
It lets each instrument speak for itself. You have the trumpets singing and articulating their sound, the flutes at another time dancing around on top, at one point you have what I think is a bassoon or bass clarinet (I'm sorry, I've been out of music for a few years and my ears a bit rusty in this regard) which, every time I hear it, puts a grin on my face. There are some fast paced, running strings as a foundation in quite a few parts and as you'd expect, it gets your heart going. The french horn parts in the fourth movement are just lovely and actually reminiscent of John Williams fanfares (though Paul doesn't actually use them for this). The beginning of the second movement is just so catchy that I guarantee you'll be humming it later, if you're actually listening to it (as opposed to having it as background music while you do something else).
I absolutely adore that Paul is branching out into ballet orchestration and learning to write scores. Ballet needs new updates and new ideas if it is to survive as a creative medium in a world where voices are electronically altered and computer generated instruments are the basis of popular music (Lady Gaga, the Ke$a person whose name I don't pretend to understand, or any other artist you've heard about using auto-tuning, like in the Antoine Dodson song called Bed Intruder.)
I think that we need to bring in artists from other genres. It benefits them (pushing them to learn and expand their skills) as well as whatever medium we bring them into. Those who have never been properly introduced to it (like ballet and instrumental music) can be given a gateway into it. "Oh, I like Paul McCartney and he's written some music for a ballet. Maybe I should check it out!"
I think that every artist, no matter the genre, no matter the medium, no matter the era in which they live, hopes that all their music will be a hit and successful. They also know that this isn't reality, where they will be lucky to have even one work become famous. Obviously, Paul has been far luckier than most. He didn't write this hoping to shake up the ballet world or redefine instrumental music. He wrote it because he was asked, it was something he hadn't done before, and he found it interesting. Will this blow the top off of instrumental music? Nope. He knows that.
It was written to accompany a story in his head. I think he succeeded. I can certainly envision the ocean, dancing, running, love, struggle, so many things, while listening to this. I think that may be the true test of instrumental (classical, if that helps you understand) music. Does it capture a mood, an event, does it speak without words? Yes, for me, this piece does. I can follow it in my head and come up with ideas for what might be happening (as I'm obviously not able to see it with the accompanying ballet) just the same way that I can if I listen to works by Mozart, Dvorak, Chopin, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Elgar, Copeland, or even the very famous modern day film score composer, John Williams. I'm not putting Ocean's Kingdom in their league, per se, just saying that the imagination and story is there with Paul's piece, too.
Listen to the samples before you buy, don't expect the music world we know it to be blown apart, and understand how, why, and who it was written for. Perhaps, also take into account the man never learned to read mainstream music notation (of which most of us are familiar with, even if only by sight). Take it for what it is, enjoy it, and applaud Paul for taking such a giant leap into waters, or indeed an ocean, where he had never before ventured.
My one question/concern about this is not related to the music itself, exactly. Why does it say, for example on the fourth movement, that it is 20 something minutes long but plays only until around the 14th minute? Did my copies not download properly?