Amit Peled reconstructs a recital that Pablo Casals played at Peabody

As part of his explanation, Peled observed that, in Casals’ day, concerts tended to be viewed more as entertainment than they are today. He proposed the simile that a concert program was like the menu for a fine dinner. It would begin with an aperitif, followed by a main course (which probably would have been steak for many in Casals’ audience) and concluding with dessert. This allowed him to introduce the second half of the program as an extended “dessert course,” short pieces to be appreciated for their pleasures rather than their profundities.

One might quibble with the idea of a meal half of which consisted of desserts, but Peled approached all of this with an amiable style. (He even asked for the lights to be raised, so that he could have a better view of the audience. He deserves high marks for this, particularly since it meant that members of the audience also had a better view of their program books!) The fact is that this portion of the program offered up a variety of well-conceived compositions, just as the best desserts have something to offer beyond mere sweetness.