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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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.
The vocals are lovely, with the harmonies rising and falling, bringing you to various places in the somewhat "spiritual" journey of this work.
This music, in my opinion, needs to be felt. The lyrics are fairly simple, though full of imagery. What gives them the strength they have is the power behind them. This music lives and breathes. Not just notes on a page, it gets into your very core.
I urge anyone to listen to this CD. Not only Paul fans. I think many will find it inspirational, beautiful, and enjoyable to listen to.
This work, as anyone who considers the lyrics, much less the music, will recognize, is a set of meditations on matters spiritual, material, personal, and musical. It is a highly confessional and personal look at the heart and mind that make Paul McCartney tick. The lyrics consider the questions of how to find light and spirit and love in your life. The answer is that you pray, and praying loudly and demandingly is okay with McCartney. There is spirit in the world, and you can connect with it. If your connection is sound, it will bring you all the treasures of life and love and successful communication of your heart. Ecce Cor Meum is full of climaxes, and excitement, and tempo and mood changes. There are contrapuntal passages liberally strewed throughout the work, and there are gorgeous instrumental colors, and lonely voices plaintively singing their way out of gloom and darkness and despair into light and joy and forward motion. It does not have architectural structure, but it is in constant spiritual and musical motion.
"Let the good that surrounds us help us to always care." "Take love away and we are ruined." Lead us "into the light of your sweet song." "There in the future we may be apart. Here in my music I show you my heart."
The piece is undoubtedly colored by the death of Linda McCartney in the middle of its composition, and what McCartney learned of finding the light again, and how to react to making mistakes while looking for the light. The personal credo expressed in this composition has been tested by the worst that could happen to this particular composer, and he uses his own dark night of the soul to strengthen his personal philosophy of love, light, music, and positive action.
What it is not is uneventful and vapid, unless you think that love doesn't exist, that there is no such thing as spirit, and that music is primarily for entertainment. Music can save your soul, McCartney sings, and his soloist and choirs sing convincingly. The music reaches, and surges, and batters down the gates of heaven on earth.
I can easily understand those who have reported that they listen to the piece over and over again. It's heartening, it's exciting, it's seriously melodic and wildly expressive. Ecce Cor Meum is just one man's testimony to what's important in life, but the man in question is one of the most talented and inventive musicians around.
McCartney's is a pastoral England when it comes to the Classics. This choral work would stand well along side the works of William Walton, Arnold Bax, Ralph Vaughn Williams, and that's something to be especially proud of. McCartney has said of his famous pop career that what he was proudest of was that the works of The Beatles were always about Love, Peace, Understanding. That remians the core theme of this work. The lyrics are what you would expect from Paul: direct entreaties to the heart filled with compassion and a sentimentality that seems to have left the cynical world of soundbites and political liars. Like the Dalai Lhama or Tich Nhat Hanh, whse encomiums seem too simplistic to answer the world's pains, Mc Cartney directs his thoughts and prayers to what is essentailly human about us all, and he refuses to give up hope and faith.
There's something to be said for that. It's not a silly love song. This is the heart that he and in his view all of us would want each other to behold. He gets that across more convincingly than anyone this side of Arvo Part.
The choir and the orchestration are perfect through out. McCartney, a choirboy reject, seems to want to still prove to whomever canned him that he could do it. And does he ever! You'll find this a disc you will return to often, especially when your mind needs a rest. I'd like to hope that McCartney will now aim for more adventurous efforts, using perhaps either Taverner or Maxwell Davies as iconic beams. We shall see. In any case, be it in his rock mode or classical efforts, Paul McCartney is in the midst of a terrific golden age. His writing, performing and his vision have never been better, more to the point of what our souls need. Well done.