Ep. #78 Featuring Martin Chalifour and Elisabth Zosseder
As we reflect on our immense gratitude for our extended communities and for the joy of creating music, we explore music which we believe speaks uniquely to the soul.
Jules Massenet’s “Meditation” from his grand opera Thaïs is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written. The Romanticism in Massenet’s music is in full bloom here, embodying the otherworldly fantasies of our heroine, Thaïs, as she contemplates leaving her life as a courtesan to pursue a life of holiness. Massenet’s ability to harness Thaïs’ complex emotions through the sound of solo violin and orchestra heavily saturated with harp, is what spurred the piece’s success beyond the otherwise cumbersome opera.
While Thaïs is not as widely performed as other masterworks of Massenet, its “Meditation” has taken on a life outside the opera and is often played as a stand-alone concert piece. Its popularity has inspired settings for almost every instrument imaginable from Yo Yo Ma’s cello, to arrangements for solo piano, flute, and even trombone. Indeed, it would seem every musician wants a chance to interpret the soul-stirring piece. It is contemplative and romantic while evoking an ethereal sense of calm and overwhelming joy. Its heavenly sound speaks to every soul for whom it is played.
Gifting our souls with peace and reflection are Los Angeles Philharmonic concertmaster Martin Chalifour and accomplished harpist Elisabeth Zosseder. We are grateful for them.