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It says much about the incredible range of Paul McCartney’s music that, hot on the heels of his Flaming Pie album (featuring guests Steve Miller and Ringo Starr) and just prior to Run Devil Run (with guests including Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour) he produced his second major modern classical work.
Standing Stone is a large-scale symphonic work (with choir) based on an extended poem, which McCartney wrote himself. In the CD liner notes, McCartney said that he was attempting to ‘describe the way Celtic man might have wondered about the origins of life and the mystery of existence’.
It is in four movements and was inspired by the mysterious stone circles that feature on the CD’s front cover, in an image by his late wife, Linda. The premiere took place in the Royal Albert Hall in London in October 1997. Immediately, Standing Stone was a big hit, reaching no. 1 in the classical charts. Poignantly, for a work that would prove to be his last before Linda died from breast cancer in 1998, it culminates in the beautifully lyrical ‘celebration’.
London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus; Lawrence Foster (conductor). EMI Classics: 5564842.
Illustration: Mark Millington