Following the current trend of popular and jazz composers writing works in the classical idiom, Paul McCartney presents herewith his fourth classical album in 15 years. The work was commission by the world-renowned Magdalen College Oxford to inaugurate a new concert hall, with the hope for something which would be sung by young people wherever it was performed. The text of Ecce Cor Meum is both English and Latin. McCartney was taking part in a concert at the church of St. Ignatius Loyola in NYC and happened to see a statue which had written on its base Ecce Cor Meum. He remembered some school Latin and decided that it would be a good basis for his new work.
The oratorio is in four movements with an interlude in the center, and scored for soprano, choirs and orchestra. McCartney learned that he couldn’t write long sustained passages for the young voices, who lacked the stamina to sing them. Due to rehearsals he moved large portions of the score from the choirs to the orchestra as a result. The sense of the first movement, Spiritus, is “Spiritus teach us to love.” The second movement, Gratia, concerns thankfulness for “the humble state of grace.” Music which fills us with joy is the subject of the third movement, Musica, which ends in a tumultuous climax of choirs and orchestra. The final section – Ecce Cor Meum – says “Here in my music I show you my heart.” A section redolent of the American minimalist composers is heard, then going into music with a Poulenc sort of wit and élan. None of McCartney’s classical works have received much praise from classical reviewers, and frankly I never got around to listening to his earlier efforts, but I find Ecce Cor Meum a listenable example of the English choral tradition and expect it to find favor in that area.
– John Sunier