Enjoyment is key to live performances, pianist says

January 15, 1994|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,Music Critic

The pianist Jose Caceres is talking about Beethoven's "Appassionata" Sonata and the way he likes to play its tumultuous conclusion, which should sound like an erupting volcano blasting its top into orbit.

"I love that piece -- so strong, so full of energy, so vehement and so passionate," Caceres says of the work he will play tomorrow at his 4 p.m. recital in the Walters Art Gallery. "It's one of the towering masterpieces of the repertory. But that coda -- you have to say the rosary many times before you play that one!"

The good-humored 31-year-old pianist, born in Puerto Rico and trained at the University of Maryland College Park, isn't serious about saying a prayer before concluding the "Appassionata." But he's entirely serious about the purpose of the concert, a benefit for the Health Education Resource Organization to raise money for the fight against AIDS.

HERO asked Caceres, the winner of several important international competitions, to donate his services by giving this concert.

"I answered yes without hesitation because it's such a great cause," says the pianist, who moved to Bolton Hill from Washington last fall.

His recital features an interesting and unusual program. Besides the "Appassionata" and several pieces by Rachmaninov, his program features several unfamiliar pieces -- such as a set of tangos by the Argentine composer, Juan Jose Castro (1895- 1968), the Mendelssohn-like "Sara" of the Puerto Rican composer, Jose Ignacio Quinton (1881-1925), and Grieg's "Holberg Suite."

The "Holberg Suite" unfamiliar?

"Few people know that it's originally for piano," Caceres says of this lollipop of the orchestral repertory. "The 'Holberg Suite' is not easy to play on the piano because it's so hard to get the right textures and colors from the instrument. But I love the piece. It's a great opener because it's so filled with life and joy."

The entire program is designed to give pleasure. Castro's set of tangos, for example, approaches the spirit of jazz while retaining the essence of the seductive tango.

"I always go on the premise that we musicians owe ourselves to the audience," Caceres says. "They're the ones paying to hear us. It's extremely enticing to stay at home with a glass of wine and your compact discs. Our performances must educate -- perhaps by introducing audiences to music they don't know and perhaps by other means -- but just as important is to entertain. When you're watching a harmonica player and you begin thinking about your laundry, then something's wrong."

HERO BENEFIT

What: Jose Caceres piano recital

When: 4 p.m. tomorrow

Where: Walters Art Gallery, 600 N. Charles St.

Tickets: $75 and $100

Call: HERO, (410) 685-1230

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