Tone Poem Tuesday

Here is an oddity of sorts. I can’t really say much about it, because I have found almost no information whatsoever about it online. It is a symphonic poem called Visions, by Jules Massenet. Massenet was a French Romantic who is best known for his operas, and for the “Meditation from Thais“, which is one of the most famous solo violin works in all of classical music and a staple on “Music for a peaceful mood” compilations. Massenet was a gifted melodist whose work tends to exhibit high craftsmanship. Debussy eulogized Massenet thusly:

He was the most genuinely loved of all our contemporary musicians. His colleagues never forgave him for having such a power to please; it really was a gift. Massenet realized he could better express his genius if pastel tints and whispered melodies in works composed of lightness itself.

Visions is a late work in Massenet’s life, and it was never published. How it saw the light of day, I have no idea; nor do I have any information about its composition or its inspiration. All I have here is, quite literally, the music, which is meditative and playful and ultimately dreamlike, with an offstage solo violin and an offstage soprano. It’s a highly meditative work that seems a cross between Romanticism and Impressionism, or between the symphonic language of Europe in the 1800s and the glass-like textures of Ralph Vaughan Williams to come. There is something compelling about this piece, which I found simply by doing a YouTube search for “Jules Massenet”. I ended up listening to it three times in succession as I worked.

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One Response to Tone Poem Tuesday

  1. Roger Owen Green says:

    This was great!

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