Paul McCartney - Ecce Cor Meum / Behold My Heart

Paul McCartney
Ecce Cor Meum

(EMI Classics)

First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2006, Volume 13, #11

Written by John Metzger


There’s little doubt that Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio and Standing Stone were ambitious projects, but their execution, nonetheless, couldn’t help but to feel disjointed and tentative as he struggled to extend his skills as a songwriter into the realm of classical composition. Beyond the obvious thematic scope of his subsequent endeavor Working Classical: Orchestral and Chamber Music by Paul McCartney, he wisely didn’t even try to assimilate his structural concepts into a cohesive whole. Instead, he presented a series of shorter works alongside orchestral interpretations of his familiar pop tunes, and without the pressure to produce a fully integrated score, he was able to refine his craft considerably while also paying tribute to the memory of his late wife Linda.

Deploying all of the lessons that he has learned, McCartney’s latest effort Ecce Cor Meum bears the fruit of his labor, and the maturity that he brought to the project is enough to assure that the four-part suite lives and breathes as a single, interconnected entity. Granted, the seriousness of the work casts his lyrics in a bad light, and the words that he penned — which contain such innocuous drivel as "Music, music musica/Fill us with joy/Joy to be here/Here in your song" and "Truth is only reality/Nature truly is what we are/Peace is only nature at rest" — are, at least on paper, little more than simplistic platitudes that read like silly love songs. However, when performed by soprano Kate Royal, the Boys of Magdalen College Choir, and the Boys of King’s College Choir in conjunction with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Orchestra, the hour-long piece transcends itself to become something greater.

In effect, the poetic beauty of Ecce Cor Meum’s arrangements serves to elevate McCartney’s prosaic lyricism, and as a result, the words that are sung become less important than how they blend into the composition as a whole. As the syllabic sounds melt into the surrounding orchestral accompaniments’ alternations between tranquil loveliness and ominous turbulence, the work obtains an air of tremendous import, and the dynamic majesty that he invokes reflects a powerfully moving emotional core that speaks not only to the sorrow that currently pervades the world but also to the hope that love and peace will conquer all. starstarstarstar

Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart) is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2006 The Music Box