Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart)

Composer:  Paul McCartney

 Produced by: Emi Classics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Searching for a composition that would set the seal on a new concert hall for Magdalen College Oxford, Anthony Smith, then President of the college, commissioned Sir Paul McCartney.  Although Paul McCartney has an enormous musical background, this sort of composition was something new for him – a “great learning experience.”  Having never had any formal lessons in composition or notation, the process was quite challenging.  Eight years later, Ecce Cor Meum was completed. 

            Ecce Cor Meum is an oratorio in four movements, scored for choir and orchestra.  An oratorio is a large musical composition for orchestra, vocal soloist and chorus with an underlying story.  It differs from an opera in that the story is not acted out – there are no scenery, costumes, or actors, only musicians and vocalists.  The lyrics are English, interspersed at times with some Latin.  The title, Ecce Cor Meum, means Behold My Heart, and is the centerpiece around which the music was composed.  For the Emi Classics release, soprano Kate Royal, The Boys of King’s College Choir, Cambridge, The Boys of Magdalen College Choir, Oxford, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields joined forces under conductor Gavin Greenway.

            Immediately upon placing this CD in the player, I was impressed by the musical score.  For someone who grew up with the music of the Beatles, I could never have believed that Paul McCartney could compose something so beautiful on such an enormous scale.  I sat mesmerized through 59 minutes of beautiful composition, thinking, “This is Paul McCartney?”  The vocals were incredible and the lyrics, incredibly uplifting.  The use of Latin, however sparingly, gives one the impression that they are standing inside a church, listening intently as the gospel is sung by an infamous choir. 

            Of all of the musical beauty Paul McCartney has ever created , with the composition of Ecce Cor Meum, he has most certainly outdone himself.  This is a work to be proud of.  It seems that challenges bring out the best in McCartney.  Ecce Cor Meum will fit perfectly in any classical music aficionado’s collection.



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