Suggestions for 2 violins, viola
I recently got myself a viola, and so now of course I want occasions to play it. I'd appreciate suggestions of what we might play.
At church we have three other violinists (one of whom doesn't play that regularly, so I am just counting two of them here). I think I'm the only one who doubles on viola, and not only do we not have a cellist but probably wouldn't know where to find one if we needed one.
I've been having a look around for pieces for two violins and viola (with piano/continuo is fine and perhaps even preferable), but I find there's not as much out there as I'd think for this particular instrumentation. And wading through IMSLP is exhausting!
We're all about intermediate level; probably we don't want anything that will take tons of preparation (especially as one of our violinists is blind so has to memorize everything, and she's usually pretty busy all the time so she will appreciate it if she does not have to stuff too much into her head, lol) so it would probably be best to keep it at the intermediate level. I don't think we have any interest in hymn arrangements, show/popular tunes, etc.; I'm looking for classical music.
I'm fine with trios originally written for other instruments (for example, I've found a couple for flute + violin + viola that I think would sound fine substituting another violin for the flute; found a Handel trio I liked for two oboes + basso continuo where in the recording they had added a bassoon playing part of the continuo part along with the harpsichord and I'd be all right with arranging in a viola part the same way, etc.).
Two questions on the "adaptation" front:
1. I've found trios for two violins and cello; would it sound weird to adapt the cello part to viola? Of course, it depends on the piece in question, but in general, is this an idea that's just not going to work? (I'm sure it's not going to be as simple as "play it an octave up," but that's a place to start and adapt from there.)
2. Would it sound weird if we took a string quartet piece and used piano as the cello part and pretend it's just a basso continuo (this too, I'm sure, is dependent on the particular piece)? That would, of course, make the music search much easier.
Thank you in advance for any help!
There are 3 pieces I know of for your combination. There is Kodaly's trio and Dvorak's Terzetto and Drobnasti. I don't know their difficulty though
The Dvorak Miniatures for two violins and viola aren't too hard. They were composed because the Terzetto was too difficult for one of the two violinists it was composed for.
I'm trying to avoid the Dvorak and the Kodaly; I can't say I'm that fond of them (and I'm not sure my cohorts will be, either). Sorry; I should have stated that in my initial post.
Yeah, there isn't too much there for 2 violins and viola. You could try playing the cello part on viola, but it'll be a bit weird, although that's depending on the piece. My suggestion is to only transpose notes that the viola can't play up at octave. As for the second possibility, it's possible but the pianist/continuo would be bored to death playing with only one hand (or a bit of two hands). Check IMSLP's categoy "for two violins and viola". If you can use the category filter, filter out anything that's not in the public domain as most of it is self-published contemporary works. IMSLP isn't the easiest to use, though. The other possibility would be to use a clarinet or saxophone part as a viola since the range of the clarinet and saxophone is similar to that of the viola.
Try Last Resort Music. They do gig-book arrangements for mixed instrumentation. There are classical arrangements that are suitable for intermediate-level players without too much preparation (and are sight-readable by advanced players).
Thanks, Ella and Lydia.
I have a collection called "Das Unkomplette Streichquartett" edited by Walter Hockner, which was designed for reading when not every member of a casual string quartet can show up. It contains one piece for every combination of two or three instruments in a string quartet. I believe the whole collection is now on IMSLP.
I haven't succeeded at finding that on IMSLP, Andrew. Could you link please?
Go ahead and research the obscure stuff. Often it's great material that should be more widely played and you'd be surprised at this, but there are recordings on YouTube of pretty obscure pieces.
I assume you've called up this page of IMSLP
There's an arrangement of a Beethoven trio for 2 oboes and cor anglais (I think), I performed it many years ago. Not too demanding technically. I don't have an Opus number, or any idea where to start looking for parts.
If you play in an orchestra, or have connections with one, the oboist there may be able to help you with that Beethoven trio.
Andrew-- thanks, I'll look it up. Sounds pretty flexible.
Looks like I'm mistaken about Das Unkomplette Streichquartett -- I thought I saw it on IMSLP a year or two ago, but probably just saw a different collection of easy string quartets edited by Hockner, titled Das Streichquartett. Nonetheless the entire collection is worth buying. It doesn't cost much, and I've found it useful to bring to reading quartets in case someone arrives late, leaves early, or doesn't show up.
Perhaps arrange Bach inventions?
I think baroque music might be the best bet. I was just yesterday playing some great Handel trio sonatas for two violins + basso continuo (can't remember which ones but they were lovely and pretty straightforward to read). Explore IMSLP and see what you can find.
1. I do not see any reason not to transpose the cello part for viola (or seeing if IMSLP has done that). My trio consisting of piano, clarinet and viola played the Beethoven opus 11 trio when I found a viola version of the cello part. It works quite well with viola, so I assume the pieces you have found for two violins and cello would work equally well for two violins and viola.
So I was confused and apparently thought you were looking for two violins and cello by the time I mentioned the piece supposedly by Benda.