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MUSIC : Finally, It's Henry Purcell's Turn

June 01, 1995|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN | Benjamin Epstein is a free-lance writer who contributes frequently to the Times Orange County Edition.

When the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death was marked in 1991, there was a recording and marketing blitz the likes of which had never been seen before. The 300th anniversary of Henry Purcell's death is being commemorated this year, and there's been nary a peep.

Well, almost nary.

"Purcell hasn't been performed as much; nobody's made movies about him," agreed Burton Karson, director of the weeklong Corona del Mar Baroque Musical Festival, which begins Sunday. In honor of the tricentennial, works by Purcell will be featured in each of the series' five concerts.

"In London, there are Purcell concerts in the best venues, and they produce many fine recordings," Karson said. "American aficionados are only aware of Purcell because of CDs. Not enough is performed in public spaces here to capture the concert-going public, and certainly not the non- concert-going public."

Karson is doing his modest best to change that.

The festival begins with the short "Curtain Tune" by Purcell and a program of Baroque concertos at St. Michael & All Angels Church; Michael Eagan will play the premiere of his own Neo-Baroque concerto for archlute, a commission by the festival's board of directors.

Monday at the church, organist Craig Phillips performs a recital of music by Bach, Buxtehude and Mendelssohn--and Purcell, of course. Phillips will be joined by bassoonist Andrew Klein.

Only works by Purcell will be heard Wednesday at Sherman Library & Gardens, among them "Hark, how the wild musicians sing" and the amusing Masque from "Timon of Athens," complete with backdrops painted by Corona del Mar resident Robert Jackson.

More music in the gardens is slated for Friday. Flutist Louise Di Tullio, violinist Clayton Haslop and cellist Timothy Landauer play unaccompanied Bach sonatas and, with harpsichordist Gabriel Arregui, Purcell and Bach chamber works.

Sunday's finale at St. Michael features vocal soloists, chorus and orchestra under the direction of Karson and includes a motet and cantata by Bach, Durante's Magnificat and Purcell's "Come Ye Sons of Art."

All concerts except Friday's chamber music program will be performed on period-authentic instruments, used for the first time at last year's festival. A highlight of this year's festival promises to be Wednesday's minimally staged excerpt from Purcell's "Timon of Athens."

"There are millions of people who know about and respect the music of Mozart who never actually go to concert halls to hear it," Karson said. "But they nevertheless recognize the importance of it.

"If they heard the music of Purcell, they would hear more contrast, more drama and vocal music actually sung in their own language--exciting, extraordinarily satisfying, entertaining music. And here's their chance."

* What: Corona del Mar Baroque Music Festival.

* When: Sunday through June 11. (See accompanying schedule of performances.)

* Where: St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, 3233 Pacific View Drive, Corona del Mar. Sherman Library & Gardens, 2645 E. Coast Highway, Corona del Mar.

* Whereabouts: For St. Michael Church, take the San Diego (405) Freeway to the MacArthur Boulevard exit and head south; turn left on San Joaquin Hills Road, left on San Miguel Drive and right on Pacific View Drive. For the Sherman Gardens, take the San Diego Freeway to the MacArthur Boulevard exit and head south; turn left on East Coast Highway.

* Wherewithal: Series, $70. Individual events: Sunday or June 11, $25; Monday, $10; Wednesday or June 9, $30.

* Where to call: (714) 760-7887.

A Baroque Musical Festival Program

* Sunday at 4 p.m.: Concertos at St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church.

* Monday at 8 p.m.: Organ recital at St. Michael & All Angels Church.

* Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Works by Purcell at Sherman Library & Gardens.

* June 9, at 8 p.m.: Solo and chamber music at Sherman Library & Gardens.

* June 11, at 4 p.m.: Festival finale with vocal soloists, chorus and orchestra at St. Michael & All Angels Church.

MORE MUSIC:

Argentine pianist Bruno Leonardo Gelber is soloist for Beethoven's Concerto No. 5, "The Emperor," tonight at 8 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Costa Mesa. The Pacific Symphony also performs Richard Strauss' "Ein Heldenleben." $14 to $41; $8 student/senior rush. (714) 755-5799.

The Pacific Symphony Institute Orchestra presents the premiere of excerpts from Vietnamese American composer Khoa Le's symphonic suite, "1975," Saturday at 3 p.m. The Project 20 concert at the Orange County Performing Arts Center is FREE. (714) 755-5799.

"Ein Kleines Haydn Fest" (A Little Haydn Festival), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, will feature coffee, strudel and six masterworks performed by the Angeles String Quartet in Founders Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, and lunch in the park. $25. (714) 556-2787.

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