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MUSIC : Chamber Festival Aims for 'Uplift'

June 25, 1992|CHRIS PASLES | Chris Pasles covers music and dance for The Times Orange County Edition.

About the time the real sun is setting Thursday, a musical sun will be rising in Seal Beach.

Haydn's "Sunrise" Quartet will launch the 18th annual Seal Beach Chamber Music Festival in the McGaugh School auditorium at 8 p.m., followed on the program by Dvorak's Quartet in D minor. Both will be played by the Ysaye String Quartet: violinists Lawrence Sonderling and Jean Hugo, violist Graig Gibson and cellist Alan Parker, the festival's music director.

The "Sunrise" Quartet got its name, Parker says, because it opens with a long, unfolding B-flat major arpeggio, and "someone decided that was like the rising of the sun because it was so bright and so glorious. You have to play that movement in a way that captures this feeling of uplift."

The third movement, by contrast, paints quite a different musical picture. "It was intended to imitate a hurdy-gurdy," Parker continues, "so we'll be playing it without vibrato, with bows near to the bridge to get this whiny, nasal sound, with drone fifths and off-center rhythms, as if someone is cranking a huge hurdy-gurdy."

And by further contrast, the Dvorak quartet, composed between the "Stabat Mater" and the first set of the popular "Slavonic Dances," carries its own emotional weight.

"It was written shortly after the death of two of Dvorak's children, an infant and a 3-year-old," Parker says. "There was no penicillin in those days. The piece is in D minor, very beautiful and very Bohemian. We're quite taken by it.

"There should be a mix of styles, because (otherwise) it's very tiring to the ear."

Parker credits the festival's longevity to "a very strong group of patrons and a patrons' guild that does a lot of the work, producing the concerts, taking care of publicity and programs and other things."

This year's eight-program series, being offered on consecutive Thursdays, will operate on a budget of about $8,000, all raised by patrons and donors. Admission to all of the programs is free.

One of the festival's most important principals, Parker says, is that "if we don't have the money, we don't spend it. Absolutely no deficits. That's why we've survived 18 years and a number of other endeavors have crashed and burned."

Who: The Yasye String Quartet, opening the 18th Seal Beach Chamber Music Festival.

When: Thursday, June 25 at 8 p.m. The festival continues every Thursday through Aug. 13.

Where: The McGaugh School auditorium, 1698 Bolsa Ave., Seal Beach. Whereabouts: Take the San Diego (405) Freeway to the Seal Beach Boulevard exit and head south to Bolsa Avenue. The school is on the corner.

Wherewithal: Free.

Where to Call: (310) 431-0950.

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