Jules Massenet “Thaïs” Meditation
Itzhak Perlman – Violin
Lawrence Foster – Conductor
The Abbey Highway Ensemble
Images and filming on my own at Praia da Rocha, Algarve, Portugal

-Méditation (Thaïs)-
Méditation is a symphonic intermezzo from the opera Thaïs by French composer Jules Massenet. The piece is written for solo violin and orchestra. The opera was first premiered on the Opéra Garnier in Paris on March 16, 1894.

The Méditation is a symphonic entr’acte carried out between the scenes of Act II within the opera Thaïs. Within the first scene of Act II, Athanaël, a Cenobite monk, confronts Thaïs, an attractive and hedonistic courtesan and devotée of Venus, and makes an attempt to persuade her to go away her lifetime of luxurious and pleasure and discover salvation by God. It’s throughout a time of reflection following the encounter that the Méditation is performed by the orchestra. Within the second scene of Act II, following the Méditation, Thaïs tells Athanaël that she is going to comply with him to the desert.

The piece is in D main and is roughly 5 minutes lengthy (though there are a selection of interpretations that stretch the piece to over six minutes). Massenet may additionally have written the piece with spiritual intentions; the tempo marking is Andante Religioso, signifying his intention that it needs to be performed religiously and at strolling tempo. The piece opens with a brief introduction by the harps, with the solo violin rapidly coming into with the motif. After the violin performs the melody twice, the piece goes into a piece marked animato, progressively turning into increasingly more passionate (Massenet wrote poco a poco appassionato). The climax is reached at a spot marked poco piu appassionato (somewhat extra ardour) and is then adopted by a brief cadenza-like passage from the soloist and returns to the primary theme. After the theme is performed twice, the soloist joins the orchestra whereas enjoying harmonics on the higher register because the harps and strings quietly play beneath the solo line. .

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