A few years ago I asked my violin teacher, who has a lot of experience as an orchestral violinist, "What's the easiest Mozart symphony," and he texted back immediately, "No. 15 in G Major."
And we did that one. Well, it was pretty easy. But it was fun nevertheless, and we were happy to include the few local woodwind and horn players that the score required.
So now I'm asking all of you -- what are the next easiest two or three Mozart symphonies? Note that we have performed No. 25 in G Minor but we had to back the tempos off on the Allegros, considerably. So No. 25 should be considered a little beyond our capabilities. Our previous conductor tried to give us Schubert No. 4 "Tragic" and there was essentially a revolt at the dress rehearsal and we only performed the first movement.
You may suggest symphonies written by composers other than Mozart, too, but know that we generally prefer to deal with only a small complement of wind players. We performed Beethoven No. 5 recently, but again we had to take down the tempos of the fast movements, especially the finale, and handling all of the winds and percussion made for an exhilarating performance at the end, but the journey was stressful.
We are aware of the Britten "Simple Symphony" and this is playable for us. Well beyond our abilities would be the Grieg Holberg Suite or any of the Sibelius symphonic literature such as Karelia Suite or Finlandia.
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One thing I would note is that there is nothing wrong with doing symphonies slightly under tempo if necessary so that the orch can sound good. Remember that in those days, prior to Beethoven, there were no metronomes, so a marking like Allegro or Andante meant relative speed as opposed to some speed counted out by a metronome.
Mozart #33 is probably the easiest Mozart we have done. Have a look at it. If y=the orch is comfortable just doing movements, there is a lot more out there that would work. Good luck!
We do not "take down" the tempos. We are lucky to have enough musicians who don't need to - and others who face up to the challenges and gain good experience because of that. Our wind players are fantastic. Our main limitation is that we do not have a conductor, but have to follow the concertmaster, who therefore for gets wonderful experience leading while playing. Yesterday we read through Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and one of Bach's Double Concertos for Oboe and Violin. (It's a wonderful world with such music in it!)
EDITED to add my full agreement to your wonderful world sentiment!
Andrew, how difficult in your estimation is the orchestra portion of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto? We have a clarinetist who has indicated an interest in performing with us, and we want to do a Mozart.
Yes, I can look at scores on IMSLP. But if someone has a quick recollection of a nice piece that they've done that wasn't too hard, then I value that subjective opinion and experience so much more.
Regarding printing parts from IMSLP, we can do this, too, but we would probably need to have them bound. Otherwise I know what's going to happen - a gust of breeze and everyone's sheets are all over the stage.
Paul, I have a pace in my head for Mozart's Clarinet Concerto that seems to be a bit faster than we took yesterday. So it works at a slower than "optimal" tempo. (It was the first time I played the 2nd violin part. I played viola in concert with the same clarinetist a few years ago and 1st violin over 40 years ago. (I think 2nd violin is harder than either of those.)
I think it's all within 3rd position except for an E harmonic (twice, I think).
Regarding binding, I usually print and assemble my own part and avoid hazardous page turns with triple-width and a rare "cut-and-paste." We play one-on-a-stand.
New editions of his symphonies (9 available now, more being added as editions are completed) are being made available for free by Herschel Press, who are only requesting a voluntary donation to the Herschel Society. https://herschelpress.co.uk/symphonies/
In addition, older editions of all 24 symphonies are available from notAmos for very low prices: https://www.notamos.co.uk/
William Boyce (baptized 11 September 1711 – 7 February 1779) was an English composer and organist. Like Beethoven later on, he became deaf but continued to compose. He knew Handel, Arne, Glueck, Bach, Abel, and a very young Mozart, all of whom respected his work.
I've cued up No. 1 to listen to with my late-morning work.
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