Tuesday

Humans are hard-wired to find anything miniature absolutely adorable—how else would our screaming, pooping, unsleeping offspring make it through their first years of life? Everything from increasingly rare teensy packages of food to itty bitty electronics is met with fawning admiration. But sometimes downsizing an item merely hides the fact that things that come in small packages can sometimes be a total gyp. So while one’s initial reaction to seeing the tiniest of ivories on a Lilliputian piano being tickled by Austrian pianist Isabel Ettenauer perched on an elfin bench is, Awww! That’s the most precious thing I’ve ever seen!, it still pays to be somewhat skeptical. As with babies, phones with keys that you need a toothpick to punch, and nouvelle cuisine, there has to be a catch, right? But Ettenauer is a studied pianist whose debut disc, The Joy of Toy, just happens to be performed entirely on a kiddie instrument. You see, once Ettenauer learned that her hero, John Cage, had composed for the musical plaything, she retrieved her old 20-key orange Bontempi from her grandparents’ house and started pounding. The pieces on the album are an acquired listen—the sound is like angry windchimes, not a lighter, gentler version of a full-grown piano—but the work is as complex as it is cute. Ettenauer plays, and plays, at 8 p.m. at the Embassy of Austria, 3524 International Court NW. Free. For reservations call (202) 895-6776. (Sarah Godfrey)