Classical Music / Documentary

Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart)

Composer:  Paul McCartney

 Produced by: Emi Classics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Some of our most loyal readers will remember that a couple of years ago, I reviewed the award winning classical music album called Ecce Cor Meum.  For those who don’t remember, the composition of this album began when Anthony Smith, President of Magdalen College Oxford, decided that in order to introduce the newly built concert hall, he needed the perfect concert piece.  Having heard Standing Stone, an orchestral piece created by Paul McCartney, Smith decided that the former Beatle would be the perfect man for the job.  Thus began the eight year project Ecce Cor Meum, Latin for Behold My Heart.  The finished product won the Album of the Year Award at The Classical BRIT Awards in 2007.

             This year, EMI Classics brings you Paul McCartney: Ecce Cor Meum: The World Premiere Live from the Royal Albert Hall.  The DVD contains the concert that took place in the Royal Albert Hall in November 2006 and includes a documentary explaining all that went into the making of Ecce Cor Meum.  If I was impressed by the album, I was more impressed in watching the album come to life.  Listening to Paul McCartney discuss his labor of love was quite interesting.  I had forgotten that McCartney had never learned to read or write music, yet here he was composing an oratorio – a large musical composition for orchestra, vocal soloist and chorus with an underlying story.  Amazing! 

            The documentary was incredibly informative, discussing how McCartney was selected for the project, how it had started off very quickly and came to an abrupt halt with the death of his wife, Linda.  As Paul McCartney explained, it was a devastating time in his life.  For almost two years, he couldn’t work on anything.  Then, coming back to Ecce Cor Meum, McCartney found himself composing an incredibly sad piece which he entitled Interlude (Lament).  In listening to McCartney discuss the creation of this piece, one can understand that McCartney believes he found healing in this particular part of the composition.  He was then able to move on and create the rest. 

            As we watch the practice sessions and recording sessions, we can see how much fun everyone had with Ecce Cor Meum.  McCartney himself admits that he composed a very challenging piece for both the orchestra and the choir.  However, you can see how much everyone is more than up to the challenge.  In fact, McCartney jokes that the members of the orchestra were happy to accept the challenge.  Even soprano Kate Royal seems to be very involved with the project, taking direction from McCartney and adding her own little flourishes.

            Ecce Cor Meum being performed is quite something to behold.  It’s one thing to listen to beautiful music, but to watch the musicians, choir members and soloist combine to create such an amazingly beautiful sound is truly an incredible experience.  I can honestly say that I enjoyed Paul McCartney’s Ecce Cor Meum even more now after watching the concert performance than I did when I first heard the album.  When you realize that this beautiful oratorio was created by someone with very little classical experience and virtually no ability to read or write music, you understand just what an amazing creation Ecce Cor Meum really is.  Experiencing is believing and I absolutely recommend you experience Paul McCartney: Ecce Cor Meum on DVD!          


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