Orchestral Pieces with intermediate/advanced violin parts and easy cello/bass parts?

Edited: January 1, 2020, 9:55 AM · We're a high school chamber string orchestra that has pretty strong/advanced violinists, okay-ish violists but extremely weak cellists (low in numbers and almost all are beginners). Anyone know any pieces (preferably belong to the classical genre, but contemporary ones are acceptable too) that might suit our group?

Replies (6)

January 1, 2020, 9:58 AM · Maybe look a little further back to Handel. Not that the cellists can coast, but there are fewer notes for them to play much of the time.
January 1, 2020, 10:32 AM · Try telling that to a cellist doing continuo in the Messiah
Edited: January 1, 2020, 12:07 PM · Keri, one piece that comes to mind is the orchestral arrangement of Pachelbel's Fmin Chaconne and Variations. The popular orchestral arrangement today will most likely be in the easier Dmin. The cello part is a sequence of 4 slow notes repeated ad infinitum (or so it feels!) until the upper strings have finished, so should be well within your cellists' capabilities. There are several performances on YouTube.
Edited: January 1, 2020, 3:30 PM · Keri Chen, I write music for school groups, and have string orchestra music ready to go, and I could develop pieces for your ensemble in consultation with their director (yourself?).

There would be no charge involved, but I would supply pdf files of score and parts, and you would have to print these off for your players.

It might take a few attempts to "hit the spot", but I'm game if you are. (My idea of an advanced violin might not match yours -- though I play both violin and cello, and have some idea.)

If you wish to have a go at this arrangement (excuse the pun), please send me an email: graeme@cracklingsmarts.com

Some of my compositions have been published, and you could have a look at these, but they are more for a competent secondary school string orchestra, rather than the mixed standard ensemble. Also, the publisher sets the price, and they most certainly are not free.

Here is a link to an arrangement of Mary Anne that I wrote in the middle of 2019 for a school ensemble. It might not be your cup of tea, but it should give you an idea of my level competence: https://soundcloud.com/user-155461785/mary-ann

PS With arrangements we have to watch the copyright issues.

January 1, 2020, 11:47 PM · Try Early Baroque and French Baroque, Purcell, Rameau, Lully. I am tempted to recommend the Corelli Concerto grossos, but the solo Cello part is the hardest part. Another advantage of the Corelli set is that all of the Viola parts can be transposed to a 3rd violin part. He never used the Viola C string (!).
January 2, 2020, 5:57 AM · Another thing to investigate are the trio sonatas of Corelli, Vivaldi, Handel and other Baroque composers. The two solo parts are challenging but it would be easy for you to create viola and cello/bass parts which are greatly simplified from the already easier basso-continuo parts of the originals. Corelli's Opus 1, 2, 3 or 4 are collections of such pieces.

To simply the basso continuo part, you can eliminate many of the passing 8th notes, leaving quarter notes in their place. You can also eliminate many of the other 8th notes which are not on the beat and can simplify some of the syncopations.

These have the added advantage of being free to download from imslp.org.

But definitely pursue Graeme's offer -- I know that many school and youth orchestras work hard to play standard repertoire works to give their students exposure to them, but working with a contemporary composer such as Graeme educates your students in many very important ways: 1) it shows them that not all composers are dead and that many people alive today are composers of quality music; 2) it shows them that it's not necessary to play standard repertoire (often at substandard quality) in order to present excellent concerts; 3) it shows them that well thought out selection of repertoire which fits an ensemble's ability levels is far more important than trying to play the same repertoire as every other school/youth orchestra.

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