Playing three 45-minute concerts in one afternoon is a herculean triumph. Even if done badly it is still a triumph. Mikhail Rudy did that and fortunately did it very well.

The three concerts took place on Sept. 10 at King's Place as part of their festival. The theme of all three was the Russian literature, which is rich with colorful, majestic, exotic and challenging pieces.

The first concert, which began at 2:30 P. M. had Rudy playing two selections from Peter Tchaikovsky's "Seasons." "Seasons" has twelve pieces, one for each month of the year. Rudy played "May" and "June." "June" is the most famous of the twelve and Rudy played it slower than I've usually heard it. He played it slow enough to give it a melancholic sigh that's at the heart of many of Tchaikovsky's best work.

The highlight of the first program was "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Modest Mussgorsky. This work has been rearranged a number of times, with Maurice Ravel arranging it for an orchestra and it's even been performed by the rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Mikhail Rudy played the work as it first appeared, as a work for solo piano.

The work is a series of tone-sketches based on paintings of Mussorgsky's friend Viktor Hartmann. The names of the paintings - which were omitted from the program - are imaginative and the music recreates scenes of an old castle, a gnome, an ox-drawn cart and the Jardin des Tuileries at the Louvre. Rudy created them beautifully, although having the names in the program would have been better.

The second program began at 3:45 and Rudy was joined on stage by cellist Alexander Ivashkin to perform Sergei Prokofiev's cello sonata and Igor Stravinsky's Suite Italienne. Prokofiev's Cello Sonata was written near the end of the composer's life, shortly after he had been denounced by the Soviet government as "anti-people." He wrote it for the great cellist - and his great friend - Mstislav Rostropovich.

Despite the tragedy in Prokofiev's life, the piece is not melancholy, although it has a few tender moments which Ivashkin captured beautifully.

Stravinsky's "Suite Italiene" is a rearrangement for cello and piano of his ballet "Pulcinella." The ballet was the first of Stravinsky's neoclassical works and has melodies he believed were by early classical composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (hence "Italiene"). The work has plenty of avant-garde things in it that were part of Stravinsky's earlier style like the bow slapping the fingerboard.

And the third program began at 5:00 with Rudy going on stage alone once again. He zipped through some shorter pieces by Prokofiev, including eight of the twenty "Visions Fugitives", one prelude (Op. 12 no. 7) and three selections from his piano transcription of his ballet "Romeo and Juliet." He went through all these pieces without a break, probably because of the time constraints.

Toward the end it was clear Rudy was getting tired, fudging passages and bowing very quickly after coming out to play the last composition of the afternoon - Stravinsky's "Petroushka."

Stravinsky transcribed three movements of his ballet for the pianist Arthur Rubenstein. Rudy played two of them plus a few more of his own, which added the Dance of the Wet Nurses and several dances later on in the ballet. Rudy's transcription, unlike Stravinsky's, has the compositions arranged in the same order as in the original ballet. His arrangement also omitted the Russian Dance, one of the more popular parts of the ballet (and Stravinsky's transcription) for some reason.

"Petroushka" was the highlight of the afternoon. It was the greatest work, the most challenging, and it was arranged by Rudy himself. In the end, he was given applause for not just "Petroushka", but the entire afternoon firing off the greats of the Russian literature - solo piano, cello and piano transcriptions of other greats. Rudy ended the enormous run with an encore performance of Claude Debussy's Etude for eight fingers (Book 1 number 6), the only non-Russian work of the whole event.

Playing a 45 minute concert is nothing unusual for a concert pianist. Doing three of them in one afternoon is an astounding feat that even non-pianists can respect. Mikhail Rudy deserves admiration for playing so well during them.