Things start looking up with the second movement, “Hall of Dance.” At 16 minutes, this is the longest movement and thankfully the most varied and tuneful. Fans of McCartney the pop songwriter will clearly recognize his signature right from the outset. Jaunty and melodic, the first few minutes contain the hookiest passages that are most likely to linger in the mind. Alternating between menacing passages using the force of the full orchestra and quieter, lyrical sections, “Hall of Dance” is easily the go-to track if you’re curious.
The third movement, “Imprisonment,” contains some attractive little snippets, but overall sounds a bit disorganized. Perhaps when heard while watching the choreography the piece might feel more cohesive. Now and again during its 13-minute duration, a McCartney-esque flourish rises out of this murkiest of tracks. The same can be said of the first half of “Moonrise,” the fourth and final movement. But somewhere around the halfway point, “Moonrise” springs to life as it brings the score to a rousing climax. The final minutes rival the best parts of “Hall of Dance” as the most distinctive and emotionally engaging sections of the score.
Here’s a little tip: iTunes has a “bonus track version” available. In addition to the full studio album performed by The London Classical Orchestra (conducted by John Wilson), you get a live performance of the entire score performed by The New York City Ballet Orchestra (conducted by Faycal Karoui). Casual McCartney fans might want to save their money for the next round of deluxe reissues in his Archive Collection series.