Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Hans Richter-Haaser, in his recital for Maryland University's International Piano Festival Thursday night hardly chose the beter part of valor. The centerpiece of his program was Beethoven's "Hammerklavier" Sonata, Op. 106. But in addition to that behemoth - the King Kong of piano literature - he also ventured to play not one, not two, but three other Sonatas by the same composer (Op. 31, Nos. 1, 2 and 3). And as if that weren't ambition enough, as I left the hall he had launched into the opening of still another for an encore - the G Major, Op. 79.
If all this suggests Teutonic severily, that's not how it was at all. Richer-Heaser, for all his physical bulk, exudes a certain hearthside coziness in this playing. The most winning side of his "Hammerklavier" was the way he managed to humanize its cosmie gestures - even the cateclysmic fugue subject of the finale had a pearly lilt. If he didn't auto do justice to the rerocious logic of its structure, fudging up a number of the thornier passages, he made the music seem a lot more approachable and empatheric than usual. His heart was in the right place, if his finger weren't always.