Working Classical

Paul McCartney
Working Classical - Front cover Working Classical - Rear Cover
Working Classical - Front Cover Working Classical - Rear Cover
Working Classical - Paul Working Classical - The C.D.
Working Classical - Paul in Booklet Working Classical - The C.D.
Label E.M.I. Classics
Catalogue No.'s CDC 5 56897 2 (CD)
EX    5 56897 1 (Vinyl L.P.)
EL    5 56897 4 (Cassette)
MD  5 56897 8 (Mini Disk)
Release date 2nd November 1999
Total time 61:35
U.K. Album Chart Detail : Did NOT Chart.
Detail : Paul's thirtieth "solo" album release, and third classical outing.
Credited as: Orchestral and Chamber Music by Paul McCartney.

For the title of this collection, Paul is quoted as saying,
"I called it "Working Classical" because I've always had a bit of difficulty with the word "classical" with regard to music. "Classical" is often thought of as "serious" music, but that then denegrates all the other music I've done with the Beatles which I don't think was all humorous. There's some quite serious stuff there. So I prefer to call it "orchestral". I'm also very proud of my working class roots. A lot of people like to turn their backs on their past, especially when they get a little bit elevated in life - but I am always keen to remind other people, and myself, of where I'm from. I don't want to lose my roots. I'm always working class, I'm always from Liverpool and my roots are always in rock 'n' roll - but I like the odd cello !
So, I just saw this interesting pun made from "Classical" and "working class" and I thought, "Well, that's a kind of neat title", and it takes the edge off the classical to have a little bit of a pun with it."

Key personnel on this piece of work include :

The London Symphony Orchestra.
London's longest established orchestra. At the time of this release, based at the Barbican Centre.
Loma Mar Quartet
Krista Bennion Feeney - First Violin.
Anca Nicolau - Second Violin.
Joanna Hood - Viola.
Myron Lutzke - Cello.
Debuted in 1997, this is their first recording for E.M.I.
Lawrence Foster
At the time of this release, Music Director of the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and National Orcestra of Catlunya. He conducted the world premiere of Standing Stone.
Andrea Quinn
At the time of this release, Music Director of The Royal Ballet.
Sir Richard Rodney Bennett
Has achieved distinction as both a composer and virtuoso pianist accompanist, he was knighted in 1998 for his services to music.
Jonathan Tunick
Composer and conductor of over fifty film scores, and received the first ever Tony Award for Orchestration for his work on the Broadway musical Titanic.

The 16 page booklet enclosed with the C.D. features some wonderful pictures of Linda's artwork and very complete information of the music accompanying it.

Notes From The C.D. Booklet.

Working with instruments commonly associated with classical music has been a hallmark of Sir Paul McCartney's work since his early days with the Beatles. The memorable use of a string quartet in Yesterday, the chamber group in Eleanor Rigby and the orchestra in She's Leaving Home; a French horn in For No One, a piccolo trumpet in Penny Lane - all these added more than just a touch of textural colour. The resulting sonorities became a vital part of the music's emotional fabric. Thirty years on and the extraordinary success of the Liverpool Oratorio (1991) and Standing Stone (1997) have established McCartney as an important new voice in the classical field. Working Classical takes this process one stage further with it's enterprising blend of orchestral and chamber music.

McCartney remains refreshingly candid about the creative processes involved in bringing his music to fruition. Having developed the ideas for the three orchestral pieces on this album, he worked alongside his regular classical producer, John Fraser, to find a satisfactory way of shaping them into a coherent overall form. Two internationally renowned musicians, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett and Jonathan Tunick, were then invited to work on the orchestrations. All three works employ a full symphony orchestra and are presented as integrated suites of striking ideas in an arch-like structure.

A Leaf and Spiral share a common origin inasmuch as both began as solo piano pieces, but there the resemblance ends. The main waltz-time idea of A Leaf (written shortly after the Liverpool Oratorio) has a reflective wistfulness about it that instantly draws the listener in. This is then contrasted with a section that in it's rhythmic propulsion and use of muted trumpet in the orchestral mix has an unmistakably American vitality about it. Twinned clarinets, pungent horns and cellos, and the striking use of a solo piano show McCartney's exuberant imagination working at full stretch, leading to a magical return of the opening material.

In comparison, Spiral is more impressionistic, much of it (despite some imposing climaxes along the way) heard as though through a heat haze. The haunting opening, featuring a solo flute memorably underpinned by a sustained chord in the strings, gradually fills out until the announcement of a little descending motif (B-A-G-E), which becomes increasingly important. The emergence of a string quartet from the orchestral texture momentarily threatens to destabilise the tonality, until the solo flute gently soothes the music's troubled surface.

The last of the orchestral pieces originated as the theme for an animated film based on an American children's book entitled Tuesday. Paul explains: "I liked the idea of extending it, so we've used a similar kind of orchestration to A Leaf, making it into more of an extended suite-like structure with several contrasting episodes. The main theme is dissected and then I work in a number of new ideas".

The string quartet pieces came about as the result of memorial services held in America and England for Linda. McCartney wanted to mark the occasion with some of his own music and decided to collect together some of the songs he had written specifically with Linda in mind, the one exception being Junk. (This simple waltz with a descending bass line dates back to the Beatles era; it's a song that suits the quartet medium especially well). The Brodsky Quartet premiered the resulting arrangements in London, the Loma Mar Quartet (who made the present recording) in New York. It was during the studio sessions that McCartney surprised the members of the Loma Mar Quartet with two new and completely original compositions - Haymakers and Midwife - as a kind of "thank you". The latter is particularly effective, with it's laid back, almost bluesy violin melody set against a steady 4/4 pizzicato accompaniment.

The nine song arrangements open with a pair of heart-warming love songs. The Victorian romanticism of Warm And Beautiful feels particularly close to McCartney at the moment: "That one really does get to me. It captures some of my innermost feelings for Linda". Of My Love McCartney recalls; "Linda and I were going through such a wonderful period and she was fulfilling so many of my needs that it was really nice to put it down in song".

Maybe I'm Amazed, the first song that McCartney intended for Linda, also sounds particularly effective here: "I felt good when I wrote it. It's always difficult to talk about your own work but I felt the tune and lyrics all seemed to come together. I remember Liza Minelli once saying she thought it was my best song, so I was particularly pleased to have written that one for Linda".

Calico Skies is a piece for acoustic guitar that McCartney wrote in America. The unmistakable suggestion of early music is quite deliberate: when he was composing it, McCartney recalled the image of a medieval musician banging away on a tabor. In complete contrast comes Golden Earth Girl, a vision of Linda as a blonde, gently tanned nature girl, totally at one with her surroundings. McCartney fondly imagines her contentedly curled up in a huge moss-lined nest.

Somedays is one of the finest tracks on McCartney's solo album, Flaming Pie. Remarkably, it was written in just two hours after he had accompanied Linda to a photo session and found himself with some spare time on his hands.

She's My Baby was written for Linda at the piano late one night in London during the couple's early years together following the break-up of the Beatles. "It was a very liberating time for both of us", remembers McCartney. "The song is essentially a series of little enigmatic statements, snatches from a diary that seemed to sum up our relationship at that time". The Lovely Linda was the opening track on McCartney's very first solo album, McCartney. Written one day in the halcyon early 70's, it's an engagingly simple piece that once heard is very difficult to get out of your head.

Written by Julian Haylock

(Julian Haylock is currently Editor of International Piano Quarterly, following spells as Editor of CD Review magazine (UK) and Reviews Editor of CD Classics. Julian is the author of books on Rachmaninov and Mahler, co-author of a series of annual pocket record guides to classical music on CD, and continues to contribute reviews, features and interviews to a wide range of publications. He was the producer of a series of recordings that included the piano concertos of Alexander Tcherepnin (with Murray McLachlan), and has at other times been on-air reviewer for LBC radio and a freelance violinist-violist.)

Side 1

No. Track Recording Information Time
1 Junk Loma Mar Quartet
Arranged by Andy Stein.
2 A Leaf London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lawrence Foster.
Arranged by John Fraser.
3 Haymakers Loma Mar Quartet.
4 Midwife Loma Mar Quartet.
5 Spiral London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lawrence Foster.
Arranged by John Fraser.
6 Warm And Beautiful Loma Mar Quartet
Arranged by Michael Thomas.
7 My Love Loma Mar Quartet
Arranged by Michael Thomas.
8 Maybe I'm Amazed Loma Mar Quartet
Arranged by Loma Mar Quartet and Roberto Pansera.
9 Calico Skies Loma Mar Quartet
Arranged by Loma Mar Quartet.
10 Golden Earth Girl Loma Mar Quartet
Arranged by Loma Mar Quartet.
11 Somedays Loma Mar Quartet
Arranged by Loma Mar Quartet.
12 Tuesday London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Andrea Quinn.
Arranged by John Fraser.
13 She's My Baby Loma Mar Quartet
Arranged by Loma Mar Quartet.
14 The Lovely Linda Loma Mar Quartet
Arranged by Roberto Pansera.

©2001 Graham Calkin's Beatles Pages. All Rights Reserved.