I’ve been panicking and feeling useless today about how I’m 20 this year (23rd September - save the date) and I haven’t done anything good yet. So I’m gonna put everything into getting one of three symphonies by Sor played by some musicians at the university.
The score for all three symphonies was found in the Biblioteque nationale de France in 2003, but no performance or recording has been made since. Given the title ‘Simfonia’, it is likely that they were used as an overture for one of his operas or ballets. Even so, they would stand alone well.
The first simfonia, in C major (lots of it is in the parallel minor) is just a 2-movement work (Largo - Allegro Assai; Andante Molto) with mostly easy parts to play, which makes me think there’s little reason for an orchestra to not learn it. In the first movement there is a great dialogue between a clarinet and bassoon, and the second allows for a small display of virtuosity with one of the 1st violins taking a solo role.
The work I’ve done on this so far - apart from getting familiar with and excited about the score and thinking about the conducting - has been to write a piano reduction that I can share with anyone who wants to hear it (though the string and wind sections are very clearly separated, so you lose lots of orchestral colour) and adding a cello part, as that is lost. Haydn, whom Sor studied keenly around the time of the simfonia’s composition, generally in symphonies uses the double bass to double at a lower octave what the cello is playing. As the double bass in the simfonia is present most of the time when there is a string section at all, the cello part is mostly the same as the bass. I have also got two of my profs interested in this, one of whom also loves to revive “new old” music, getting us to sing a different ‘Canterbury Catch’ he has discovered every time we meet.
A dream would be to have a concert of Sor’s music… get some guitarists from the uni to play some stuff: the famous Andante Largo, the Grand Solo, maybe the later duets, some Seguidillas… and then out comes the guitar composer’s symphony. For all we know, it could be a premiere, two centuries too late.