Paul McCartney's classical works: where to start

18 June 2013, 10:37

The former Beatle has enjoyed a surprisingly lengthy and successful post-mop-top career as a composer of classical music - here's our guide to the best bits, including videos

Liverpool Oratorio

Macca's first foray into classical music came in 1991 when, along with compose Carl Davis and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, he told a musical story loosely based on his own life. The resulting eight-movement piece was a huge hit, topping the classical charts.

Standing Stone

Composed in 1997, Standing Stone was McCartney's follow-up to the Liverpool Oratorio, and showed his compositional craft maturing steadily after being made an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Music. Although it does employ a chorus, the work is broadly instrumental, and performed equally well in the classical charts.

Working Classical

McCartney's growth as a composer became ever more complex and interesting, as the title of this collection suggests. Besides the cheeky pun on the social standards of classical music, McCartney weaves in several of his rock compositions, like Wings' 'My Love' and 'Warm and Beautiful'.

Liverpool Sound Collage

Outside of his classical and rock music, McCartney is also a dab hand when it comes to electronic knob-twiddling. He's worked as part of an electronica duo, The Fireman, with the bassists from post-punk legends Killing Joke, but on this release McCartney's contemporary-classical leanings come out in full force. His collaborators on this release from 2000 include The Fireman, as well as Welsh pop legends the Super Furry Animals. 'Obla Di Obla Da' it ain't.

A Garland For Linda

Featuring the work of composers like Roxana Panufnik, Richard Rodney Bennett and John Tavener as well as McCartney himself, this compilation served as a tribute album to his late wife, Linda.

Ecce Cor Meum

Translating as 'Behold My Heart', this work for chorus and orchestra was originally commissioned to open a new auditorium at Magdalen College, Oxford, but it was sadly postponed by Linda McCartney's death. It was eventually premiered in 2001, but not recorded until 2006 - it then went on to win the Classic BRIT Award for Best Album in 2007.

Ocean's Kingdom

Tackling ballet for the first time, McCartney here tells the tale of two kingdoms, one above water and one below. It was originally commissioned by the New York City Ballet, and was originally performed by the London Classical Orchestra and John Wilson.