Meditation, Version 2

Thanks to everyone who checked out my arrangement of the “Meditation” from Thaïs, by Jules Massenet.  Shortly after I posted the files, Ricardo Matosinhos, a frequent reader and supporter of my blog, made an excellent suggestion:

A nice addition to the horn repertoire. I would like give a suggestion of transposing the piece 1/2 tone higher. This would become easier to play (specially on B flat horn fingerings). There wouldn’t be the problematic A’s and D’s for tuning. The highest note would be the heroic Bb instead of the A nightmare :)
On most horns the A4 is to high, so that means usually or a missed A or a little bit high. The lowest note would be Eb, also quite easier than D.
Of course, transposing it 1/2 tone higher would change the note color. Instead of the bright D major, we would get a dark Eb major.
So, there’s not a perfect solution for a transcription from different instruments…
Give it a try and see if it works.

I agree with his suggestion, though my main reason for choosing the lower key was where I planned to perform the piece on a recital – at the end!  I was able to deal with most of the intonation issues through alternate fingerings (T3 for A’s and D’s) and the high A at the end felt pretty good fingered open on my horn.  However, I do think Ricardo’s idea is valid, and the transcription would definitely work up a half-step.  In light of this insightful comment, here is Version 2 of the horn and piano parts.  Try them both, and use the one you like best!

Another Transcription

In this post on arranging  back in September, I mentioned two works which I had recently transcribed for horn and piano.

This summer I arranged some music for horn and piano, including  Six Studies in English Folk-Song by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and the “Meditation” from Thaïs, by Jules MassenetThere are some beautiful melodies in these pieces, and I thought they might transfer well to the horn.  The Vaughan Williams is originally for cello, but there are arrangements for tuba, viola, and other instruments (and now horn).  The Massenet is a gorgeous work, and features solo violin.  In both cases I ended up altering the original keys, as well as doing some minor editing to make the parts more horn friendly.

In that post I included a recording and score from a movement of the Vaughan Williams, but it slipped my mind at the time to include the Massenet as well.  I normally wait several months after a recital to listen to the recording (more on that in a future post), and recently as I was going back through some of the pieces on that particular recital – from August, 2011 – I thought it might be nice to share the recording and score from the Massenet.  The original scoring is for solo violin and orchestra, but I worked from a violin and piano version obtained on IMSLP. One of the challenges with arranging or transcribing string music for horn is finding a suitable key.  The violin part goes pretty high, and in order to make it work I brought the key down an octave and a fifth from the original.  This puts the piano part in a pretty low range, but it seemed to balance out ok with the horn.  There are some octave transpositions in a few places, and many passages really work out the low register.  The piece is a nice closer, or perhaps an encore, which is where I programmed it – and aside from the slightly tired chops, I think it came off pretty well.  Feel free to download the score and perform it, and also feel free to tweak any of the passages if necessary.  The pedal D at the end is optional!  Here’s the recording, with Richard Seiler on piano.

And here’s the piano score and solo horn part.

Meditation_Score **Now published through IHS Online Music Sales

Meditation_Horn **Now published through IHS Online Music Sales

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