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Chatter honors late violinist, UNM professor

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Leonard Felberg was the father of Chatter co-founder David Felberg and a University of New Mexico professor emeritus.

Chatter’s Sunday, Sept. 22, concert is dedicated to the late violinist, with performances of two of his favorite pieces. The chamber group will play selected movements from Mendelssohn’s Octet in E-flat major, written when the composer was just 16, and Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring.”

The late violinist Leonard Felberg

Felberg loved to play the Octet, his son David Felberg said.

“It’s still as fresh as anything out there,” he said.

Commissioned by the great American choreographer Martha Graham in 1942, Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” conjures a celebration of the American pioneers of the 19th century.

“It’s such a timeless piece now; everyone plays it,” Felberg said. “It’s got such an American sound.”

With music degrees from Yale University, Leonard Felberg performed the piece in New Haven, Connecticut.

“He was so blown away by it,” Felberg said. “There had been nothing written quite like it beforehand.”

On Sept. 29, Chatter will continue its seasonlong nod to Beethoven’s string quartets with the composer’s Grosse Fugue. The dedication is a salute to the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth. Chatter will perform each of Beethoven’s 16 string quartets monthly.

A herculean double fugue, the Grosse Fugue was universally condemned by contemporary critics.

“He originally composed it as the final movement of his No. 13 String Quartet,” Felberg said. “His publisher thought it was too much for the audience to hear, so he removed it.”

The work is now considered among Beethoven’s greatest achievements.

The concert will close with Chris Cerrone’s “High Windows for String Orchestra.”

“He’s a rising, up-and-coming composer, if not there already,” Felberg said.

Cerrone was inspired by the towering windows in a Brooklyn church, weaving Paganini fragments with his own melodies.

“It contrasts nicely with the fugue,” Felberg said. It’s not as dense; it’s more spacious.”

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