The first moments of Philip Hosford's solo recital Sunday night at the Phillips Collection displayed a pianist with a lot to admire. But despite his warm sound, even control and accurate playing, there's something not quite settled about this talented player's work. Although he often created a beautiful singing line, particularly in Mozart's Sonata in F, K. 332, which opened the concert, at other times his playing seemed too punchy, at its loudest overwhelming the intimate hall with a clangy sound.
Given these reservations, most of Hosford's well-chosen program still provided many pleasures. His phrasing in the slow movement of the Mozart was unfailingly elegant, and he navigated the musical and technical complexities of John Corigliano's Etude Fantasy with poise. Schumann's "Papillons" and Prokofiev's Sonata No. 7 constituted the second half, and though these works were a little pushed, Hosford clearly understands the character of this music and keeps you listening. A brief encore by Ravel, "Pavane for a Dead Princess," demonstrated Hosford's soft, lyrical tone, and left one hoping that he could find a way to combine that exceptionally rich quiet sound with an approach to the big moments that made them sound warm, not just loud.