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Ocean's Kingdom

4.2 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 4, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

2011 release from the former Beatle, an orchestral piece commissioned by the New York City Ballet. The recording was conducted by John Wilson, produced by John Fraser and performed by The London Classical Orchestra. Ocean's Kingdom is the first time Paul has written an original orchestral score or any kind of music for dance and is the result of a collaboration between Paul and Peter Martins, the Ballet Master in Chief of the New York City Ballet, who have worked together to present the world premiere of a new ballet for the company's 2011/2012 season.
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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30
14:07
Album Only
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16:19
Album Only
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13:36
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12:31
Album Only

Product Details

  • Performer: The London Classical Orchestra
  • Conductor: John Wilson
  • Composer: Paul McCartney
  • Audio CD (October 4, 2011)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hear Music / MPL / Telarc
  • ASIN: B005H1IQ6M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,723 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. Fisher TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 4, 2011
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I am a big Beatles fan, and have seen Paul McCartney in concert a few times -- one of which was the best rock concert I have seen in my life. I also love classical music and have enjoyed reimmersing myself pretty heavily in it over the last few years. But this is the first time I have ventured into Sir Paul's classical music.

I am really pleasantly surprised by this album. No one should be expecting huge classical scope here. But for what it is -- tuneful, engaging orchestral music designed to drive a storyline in a ballet context -- I found this to be pretty darn good.

McCartney uses the tricks of the trade well. It starts out with a sufficiently watery-sounding opening that vaguely recalls the atmosphere of the underwater opening of Wagner's "Rheingold". Dramatic sequences use the percussion section well -- tympanis and xylophones beat out rhythmically driving, somehow corporate-sounding themes representing the bad guys in the storyline of the ballet.

The ballet itself has an environmental theme about a happy underwater kingdom being invaded by an army of aggressive landlubbers. This represents, of course, mankind's pollution of the seas, as McCartney said in a recent interview I read when the ballet premiered a few days ago.

I came to the album with some skepticism, half expecting it to be clumsy and amateurish. But it's really well done. McCartney brings his outstanding talent for writing tunes to a complex, satisfying work that seems like it would serve its storyline well in the ballet hall. Of course he's not Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky -- the two composers who were held out to him as examples of melody and rhythm when he accepted the commission to write the ballet. But he's Paul McCartney and he found his own way.
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For those of you hard core Beatles fans out there, like me, who also enjoy good classical music, also like me; this album will likely be right up your alley. While there is little here that screams Beatles, there is much here to truly enjoy. McCartney wrote this music to accompany a ballet with an underwater theme. While I understand that the ballet opened to less than stellar reviews for the choreography and costumes, the music itself was highly regarded. Personally, I truly enjoyed the album. Perhaps this music is best enjoyed through headphones, rather than accompanying a ballet (hasn't that been the case for so much music written for dance over the years?). There is enough variation in the tempo and organization of music to keep you going, and truly enjoying the score, for the nearly 60 minutes of play. I am really impressed that McCartney has ventured as far down the path of classical music composition as he has. While many rock musicians play service and homage to the classical forefathers, McCartney has taken this to entirely new dimension. For that, I give him a lot of credit. I hope he keeps going forward in this endeavor. Recommended!
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I am 23, I am a musician on the side (no longer in any band, sadly, and a massive Beatles, Lennon, Harrison, and McCartney fan. I love instrumental music (classical is a very misleading term) so this is right up my alley. I apologize if my review isn't laid out perfectly or if I repeat myself. I'm writing this around 6AM.

To start, I'd like to say that I disagree with the reviewer who seems to think that simplicity in music is, by nature, always a fault. I can assure you that it is not. (Also, simplicity needs to be defined before we can argue its merits and disadvantages) Paul has written hundreds of songs for guitar, bass, and piano/keyboard. They are not technically the hardest, most finger-tying, mind-bending parts but do we all still love and adore them? Oh, yes. Paul isn't a good piano player by most standards but his music as a whole makes his supposed lack of technicality irrelevant. Tell me that you don't go around humming "Eleanor Rigby", that you don't enjoy "Too Much Rain", that you don't exalt gems like "Jet" and "Band on the Run" (or my personal favorite from The Firemen, "Sing the Changes." The same goes for this piece, it may not use the full orchestra most of the time, but you don't necessarily need to. It's beautiful anyway.

It lets each instrument speak for itself. You have the trumpets singing and articulating their sound, the flutes at another time dancing around on top, at one point you have what I think is a bassoon or bass clarinet (I'm sorry, I've been out of music for a few years and my ears a bit rusty in this regard) which, every time I hear it, puts a grin on my face. There are some fast paced, running strings as a foundation in quite a few parts and as you'd expect, it gets your heart going.
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By no means is this a piece of classical music which will become iconic but it certainly one which displays Paul McCartney's many talents. Ocean's Kingdom can best be described as oceans beauty and tranquility. The music is subtle yet powerful. The best parallel I can make to it is John William's Saving Private Ryan score where it did not want to become too powerful so it would not take away from its purpose. The same is true for Paul's work here. Paul is making sure that this commissioned work for the New York City Ballet reflects the dance but does not take away from the dance or what the dancers are trying to represent. I would need to see this work on stage with the dancers in order to give it five stars as this piece obviusly is one which works in an almost ensemble-like way and on CD you just cannot experience this. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to this work but it did not take my breath away. However, this is a wonderful piece which anyone would be proud to have in its collection.
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