The decision to transcribe the Meditation arose from the desire to bring this piece back to my personal vision: an inner meditation, in absolute solitude, on personal concerns and on a spiritual path to be taken. And perhaps, more than the orchestral multitude it is precisely, the guitar, the intimate instrument for excellence, which can best represent this mood. The project was to re-create the track in a new way, trying to go back to the authors’ thoughts and intentions and then elaborate it in a new way but still faithful to the original intentions and goals. Thanks to the endless and fascinating timbre resources, Thais ‘emotions and torments relive on the six strings with a lyricism perhaps less sustained than the violin execution, but even more poetically poignant and intimate and perfectly in line with the purpose of the piece.

 

The Opera Thaïs

The famous Meditation is part of Thaïs composed by Jules Massenet, based on Louis Gallet’s libretto and inspired by Anatole France’s novel. This work was composed in 1892 but it has been modified several times: the two initial versions are from 1894 and 1898. The first performance was held at the Opéra in Paris on the 16th of March 1894.

The plot, set in the 4th century AD, is about the story of the monk Athanael who is going to Alessandria to redeem the courtesan Taide (Thaïs), devotee of Aphrodite. The monk succeeds in his intent but not without sorrows, because he falls in love with her.

 

The Meditation

Meditation is an instrumental intermezzo where the violin is the protagonist. It is performed in the second act, right after the meeting between the monk and the courtesan, and it describes the inner sorrow of the woman which will lead her to give up her voluptuous lifestyle in order to consecrate herself to the Lord.

 

The progression of the piece, a “religious andante”, brings us to the emotions and the moods which characterize the conversion of a soul. The page, with great lyricism, is full of interpretative indications: we move from the “dolce con soavità” in the beginning to the “poco più appassionato” e “più mosso agitato” in the middle part to then go back to the initial calmness.

 

Meditation is one of the most famous pieces performed by Massenet, especially in chamber music with the version for violin and harp (or piano): moreover, there are several adaptations for almost all melodic instruments with piano accompaniment.

 

The solo guitar version

The transcription of opera pieces has deep roots in both solo and chamber guitar repertoire. The 19th century is studded with arrangements and elaborations of arias, themes and opera overtures. We certainly cannot forget the many Original pieces inspired by the “bel canto” repertoire, such as for example Mauro Giuliani’s Rossiniane, built on the themes of the works of the genius from Pesaro.

 

The motivations that led to the flourishing of this type of literature were basically two: the possibility of recreating the most in vogue-music in that period during home concerts (perhaps taking

the opportunity to show one’s skills with virtuoso variations on famous themes) and the possibility to take advantage of the popularity of the Opera which at that time was constantly increasing.

 

Instead, the decision to transcribe the Meditation arose from the desire to bring it back to my personal vision: an inner meditation, in absolute solitude, on personal concerns and on a spiritual path to be taken. And perhaps, more than the orchestral multitude it is precisely, the guitar, the intimate instrument for excellence, which can best represent this mood.

 

The project was to re-create the track in a new way, trying to go back to the authors’ thoughts and intentions and then elaborate it in a new way but still faithful to the original intentions and goals. “Loyalty means understanding the rules of the game, respecting them and then playing a new game with the same number of moves” (*).

 

Thanks to the endless and fascinating timbre resources, Thais ‘emotions and turbulence relive on the six strings with a lyricism perhaps less sustained than the violin execution but even more poetically poignant and intimate and perfectly in line with the purpose of the piece. In my opinion, combining respect with for the musical text and ennobling the instrument by exalting its peculiar characteristics are the essential elements for a good transcription (as in its various facets of re- elaborations, arrangement or reduction).

 

Last notes

The key is the original one and all the dynamic, articulation and trend signs have been faithfully reported. The instrumental ligatures are dashed to differentiate them better from those of expression.

Since the writing is quite dense in some parts, I have chosen to highlight the melody part (which, sometimes, I moved to the middle or lower register) by writing it with a slightly larger font.

The presence of different dynamics, phrasing and articulation signs, not very common in the guitar repertoire, make this piece an interesting test for the mastery of the timbre resources and the interpretative and expressive abilities of the performer.

 

Fernando Lepri

 

(*) from the preface by Umberto Eco to the book Exercises de style by Raymond Queneau

 

 

Meditation from Thaïs, J.Massenet (Arr.F.Lepri)

€6.50Price
  • Solo Guitar

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