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Music Review

Alexander Quartet Plays With Energy, Control

April 20, 1999|DANIEL CARIAGA | TIMES MUSIC WRITER

The Alexander Quartet, playing in the season finale of the Fullerton Friends of Music series Sunday afternoon, began with intent performances of works by Haydn and Barber, and concluded with Beethoven's third "Razumovsky" Quartet, Opus 59, in a sweeping climax.

Solid musical values and ingrained technical achievement color the Alexander's felicitous readings. Its Beethoven, after a slow-to-focus opening movement, proved thoughtful and jaunty and, in the finale, imperturbably virtuosic, qualities one expects can also be found in the quartet's well-received, recently released low-budget CD box of the complete Beethoven quartets.

As displayed at the performing arts center at Sunny Hills High School, the quartet members--violinists Ge-Fang Yang and Frederick Lifsitz, violist Paul Yarbrough and cellist Sandy Wilson--are handsomely matched in terms of enthusiasm, energy and control.

Their playing of Samuel Barber's Opus 11 Quartet, by now their signature piece, gave the work its widest dynamic field while plumbing its emotional life thoroughly.

In celebration of its 40th season of admission-free chamber concerts, Fullerton Friends of Music delayed the start of the concert to justifiably congratulate itself. No harm done, but the intrusion, after intermission, of a check presentation by a local service club to the friends--face it, $500 does not go far in the real world--irritatingly delayed the performance. Hearing music remains the audience's purpose, even at admirable, admission-free events.

* The Alexander Quartet plays on the Music Guild series tonight at 8, Daniel Recital Hall, Cal State Long Beach, $5-$22, and Wednesday, 8 p.m., Wilshire-Ebell Theatre, 4401 W. 8th St. (310) 552-3030. $7-$24.

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