It may have been a coincidence, but all three sonatas that pianist Nigel Coxe chose for his recital at the Phillips Collection yesterday had gorgeous second movements.
The opening Haydn G Major Sonata, with its puckish first movement and perfectly classically formal third has a marvelously romatic Adagio in the middle. It is movement of large proportion and plaintive charm that Coxe played a touch more classical restraint than was called for.
The Schubert B Major Sonata D. 575 is another one with a blockbuster slow movement, an andante song in the best Schubert tradition. Coming between movements of rather spare texture, it is an oasis of lush sound, and here Coxe let the music speak without overdoing it.
The third sonata on the program was by Malcolm Williamson and was the premiere of his second Sonata, written in 1971. Between an energetic opener full of bursts of non-lyrical thematic fragments, and a finale whose complicated counterpoint seems to focus attention on bright and dark sounds, is a brooding poco adagio, structurally a large arch in which widespread lines were weave convoluted paths.
Two of Liszt's pieces from "Pilgrimages" Book 111 completed an intelligent and well-executed concert