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Royal Albert Hall
London  Royal Albert Hall site
Paul and Linda before London premier
Before Standing Stone premiere at Royal Albert Hall
Photo © Copyright by Jorie Gracen

November  issue of the New Yorker.
A gift for melody is so rare that, in revenge, critics call it a craft. Of all the great songwriters, few have had the gift so distinctly as Paul McCartney.  Even fewer, perhaps, have seen it last so long. McCartney, like Irving Berlin, has managed to produce memorable tunes for a span of more than forty years.  (It is probably no coincidence that the two are among the least trained of the great songwriters; neither could read or write music.)  Through slumps and silliness, McCartney's melodies have never stopped coming, and they all still have
the self sustaining "Whistle me" quality they had when they first appeared, so many years ago.

A new, four-movement symphonic poem, "Standing Stone," which will be given it's New York premiere November 19th at Carnegie Hall and has already become a best seller on CD, is brought to a singing close by one more of those tunes.  After much Celtic panting and mooing, the last movement begins with a striking nine-note figure in the brass, which eventually, after many journeys, resolves into a love song.  It's a piercingly beautiful tune-not soaring but, rather, somehow floating, gently above the heads of the musicians and into the hearts of it's listeners.  It's an English song.  What one hears throughout "Standing Stone," in fact, is a nostalgic inventory of all the things, aside from the rock and roll, that a musically gifted teen-ager would have heard
growing up in Liverpool in the nineteen forties and fifties:  Elgar and Vaughn Williams, church hymns, film scores.  When the quality of Th. new work dips, as it does, oddly, in the most fevered passages, it sounds like a Russian-derived Dimitre Tiomkin-style music of fifties movies. When the quality picks up, as it does in the slower, chamber episodes, it sounds like English pastoral or sometimes, Christmas music.  Having written the soundtrack of the sixties, McCartney has now written a carol for the millennium.  Melody has many uses.