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January 24, 2013

New music out of old forms

Ensemble to perform classical, neo-classical works from Mozart, Stravinsky

PLATTSBURGH — Two sets of eight chamber-music players in different instrumental configurations set the tone for the Adirondack Wind Ensemble’s upcoming “Classical and Neo-Classical” program.

The ensemble will perform two concerts this weekend. The first is Saturday at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, and the second is Sunday at the E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium at SUNY Plattsburgh.

After the ensemble’s 10th anniversary blowout last year, conductor Daniel Gordon downsized the winter concert with small-ensemble repertoire this season.

“We did a chamber-music concert four years ago, and it was quite successful,” Gordon said. “The last four years, I did large-ensemble stuff.”

The program features Mozart’s “Serenade No. 11, K.375” and Stravinsky’s “Octet for Wind Instruments.”

Gordon deemed Stravinsky’s “Octet” too difficult to manage previously with other works.

“Stravinsky is a very influential composer,” Gordon said. “He went through a number of stylistic periods. He’s best known for the post-romantic, Russian large-scale works … the Russian ballets, ‘The Rite of Spring’ and ‘The Firebird.’ Those were in the 1910s. A decade later, he wrote the ‘Octet.’”

By then, Stravinsky completely changed styles and came up with the idea of neo-classicism by mirroring classicism’s form, instrumentation and tonality.

“In the earlier parts of the 20th century, composers experimented in abandoning parameters of traditional music like melody, harmony and rhythm,” Gordon said. “That’s when they came up with atonality, dodecaphonic music (12 tones) — an extension of atonal music. It’s a codified way of treating all 12 notes in the chromatic scale equally and various other aspects of serial music.”

An independent musician, Stravinsky was fortunate to support himself financially through his compositions, performances and royalties. Many patrons were not fans of this newfangled music, and he combined classical elements to connect with his audience.

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