Like other aging rockers who hunger for approval from the musical establishment, Paul McCartney attempted to move into the classical realm. However, his foray was only a qualified success. A prodigious tunesmith with an ear for hummable melodies, the ex-Beatle knows how to captivate. But in collaboration with movie-score composer Carl Davis, he fashioned a quasi opera rather pretentiously tided Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio that, in musical sophistication, falls somewhere between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kurt Weill. Filled with autobiographical references, this “oratorio” traces a young Liverpudlian’s progress from wastrel to chastened husband. The sentiments are straight out of a Warner Brothers class-conscious melodrama in which bathos and self-pity finally give way to redemption. The orchestration, largely done by Davis, is quite skillful, and with the right singers McCartney’s crossover can be an effective tearjerker. In this first local performance the soloists–soprano Faye Robinson, tenor Thomas Randle, baritone Timothy Noble, and mezzo-soprano Christine Cairns–show off appealing voices. Davis conducts the Ravinia Festival Orchestra, many of whose members are moonlighting CSO players. The Milwaukee Symphony Chorus and the Glen Ellyn Children’s Choir are also featured. Tonight, 8 PM, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park; 728-4642.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Tim O’Sullivan.