The auditorium of the National Institutes of Health made for an indecently cold and unusually dark concert hall yesterday afternoon, but a warmer, more illuminating recital than the one given there by pianist Lydia Artymiw would be hard to come by. As she moved through some of the most vibrant compositions of Mozart, Schumann and Chopin, Artymiw was able to convey the musical poetry in each, capturing in the process that special, indefinable quality that has for so long made the piano the favorite of instruments.

Her playing of Mozart's B-flat Major Sonate (K. 333) was characterized by a combination of fancy fingerwork and interpretive insight.The gentle touch she brought to the Andante cantabile, her attention to every possible curve of its melodic line or subtlety of dynamics, was especially exquisite.

Schumann's "Humoresque" (Op. 20) contains the essence of romanticism, with its diversity of moods and ideas, and Artymiw missed none of the opportunities the score offered. When sheer power was required, she provided it easily; when restraint was essential, she spun out the lyrical lines as though they were as much her thoughts as the composer's.

Four of Chopin's Mazurkas emerged with perfect understatement, his Sonate No. 3 with a passionate intensity that was impossible to resist.