VOICES Notes and news on Classical releases
11 DEC 11 JASON SERINUS
For an artist so long associated with rock, it's surprising to discover how lyrical Paul McCartney can be. As I listen to his beautiful ballet score, Ocean's Kingdom, commissioned by New York City Ballet, I feel, most of all, the extreme beauty of his imagined ocean landscape. The conflicts and clashes of his imagined plot do eventually arise, setting aflame The London Classical Orchestra conducted by John Wilson. But, it's the warmth of the ocean that stays with us as the score proceeds.
McCartney explains that he composed the score without preconceptions. "Composing music for me isn't a studied art but something completely felt, like the blues. I enjoy the fact that I don't know the landscape. [Not feeling] the shadow of the great ballet composers like Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky. I based what I wrote on my own personal experience."
McCartney's experience, it's essential to note, is rooted in our current destruction of ocean species (and so much else) in our relentless pursuit of oil and so-called technological advancement. His allegorical plot reflects this in his imagined attempt of the heavies, commanded by King Terra, to steal the purity of the ocean (symbolized by Honorata). McCartney hopes that Ocean's Kingdom will help remind us that predictions of ecological doom, with the concomitant death of so many living creatures including ourselves, could indeed come true. The beauty of his music reminds us how precious life is.