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Chatter Sunday tackles Schoenberg Chamber Symphony

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As the pioneer of the 12-tone scale, Arnold Schoenberg reigns as one of the most influential composers of the 20th century.

Today’s Chatter Sunday features a lineup of 12 musicians playing Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1, Opus 9 at the Las Puertas Event Center. Santa Fe Symphony conductor Guillermo Figueroa will join the group on violin. Oregon Symphony associate conductor Norman Huynh will lead the musicians.

Figueroa recorded the piece with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in 1990.

“This one is for all solo instruments,” he said. “It is one of his great, great masterpieces. It’s an incredibly complex work.”

The chamber symphony pre-dates Schoenberg’s atonal period, he said.

“In one moment, it has all the elements of a whole symphony,” Figueroa continued. “It’s not in the famous 12-tone style. But it’s progressing the sound borders as much as you can.”

The piece premiered in 1907 Vienna. Although Schoenberg wrote it as a single movement, it features the subdivisions of a symphony, including an allegro, a scherzo, and an adagio.

“A lot of the chords are based on a sequence of fourths, whereas most chords are based on thirds,” Figueroa said. “It requires great virtuosity from all the players. You really have to know the score.”

The musicians also will perform “Breathing” (2007) by Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir. New Music aficionados appreciate her ability to create other-worldly soundscapes.

Francis Couperin’s piano piece “Les barricades mist√©rieuses” will end the program in an enigmatic three-minute package. Prominently featured in Terrence Malick’s epic film “The Tree of Life,” the piece is a haunting and bittersweet work by the old French Baroque master.

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