It is a pleasure when an artist performs a program of works he is truly comfortable with, and that are themselves wonderful to listen to. Such is the case with the recital of 19th-century pieces played at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater on Saturday afternoon by the youthful Greek pianist Panayis Lyras. Lyras plays each note with tender care and great sureness. Opening his program with Beethoven's famous "Moonlight" Sonata in C-sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2, one is less impressed by the moody melancholy of the Adagio Sostenuto (which is something of a foregone conclusion) than with the promptness and lilt of the Allegretto and Presto movements.

The lengthy "Carnaval," Op. 9, by Robert Schumann, challenges the pianist to give each of its 20 vignettes an individual character and freshness. Lyras responded amply, his technique as light as air on the dreamy "Eusebius" segment and rousing on the "Marche des 'Davidsbundler' {Schumann's imaginary music society} Contre les Philistins." At no point in the "Carnaval" was there a sense of laboriousness that so often accompanies an extensive piece.

The second half of the program began with a reputable rendering of Alexander Scriabin's Sonata No. 2 in G-sharp Minor, Op. 19, followed by the Polonaise Fantaisie in A-flat, Op. 61, by Chopin. The latter was the best-played of the recital, a harmonious blend of lighter and darker themes climaxed by a definitive final chord. The next piece, Liszt's piano transcription of Isolde's "Liebestod" ("love-death") from Wagner's opera "Tristan und Isolde," is richly melodious, but would have served better as an encore, being too brief to make much of an impression between the Chopin and the final work, Liszt's formidable "Mephisto" Waltz No. 1. This keyboard bacchanal describes Mephistopheles' wild fiddling and Faust's wildly amorous dance with a rustic maiden. Played with tremendous verve, this unfettered storm of devilish excitement swept the Terrace Theater audience. Scriabin's calming "Prelude for the Left Hand" was the concluding encore.