2(II=picc).1.ca.2.2 - 2000 - timp - harp - strings or 2(II=picc).1.ca.2.2 - 4000 - timp - harp - strings
Paul McCartney (orchestrated by Richard Rodney Bennett)
In addition to his large-scale orchestral and choral work Standing Stone, Paul McCartney wrote three shorter orchestral pieces during the 1990’s for his album Working Classical: A Leaf, Spiral and Tuesday. All three are gentle (for the most part), impressionistic mood-pictures: they belong to an English pastoral tradition that includes Delius’ Summer Night on the River and Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad. It is no coincidence that McCartney is also a painter, and that he has lived for many years in the country: the city ethos of his upbringing, which informed most of his songs for the Beatles, has largely been superseded by a strong feeling for rural landscape, and its evocation in music.
Both A Leaf and Spiral were originally conceived as piano pieces and composed shortly after the premiere of the Liverpool Oratorio in 1991. Spiral’s musical landscape, like that of Standing Stone, is a Celtic one. This is emphasised by the pentatonic harmony on which the first section of the piece is based, with its haunting, descending 4-note motive, first heard on the flute. The second section begins with a sonorous theme, richly scored for strings and horns. The ensuing repeat of the first section ends with a 4-part canon for strings which moves the music into unexpected chromatic areas. All this material is repeated and developed: there is a powerful central climax and a magically hushed close.
© David Matthews