Somewhat like Alfred Brendel in his solid thematic deliberation, Coker (b. 1959) gives an especially satisfying account of D. 537: the descending dotted chords of the opening foretell an approaching winter, the wistful wind answering with a keening arpeggio. Coker has a firm, no-nonsense touch on the keys; he makes the music sing through his fine sense of structure, carrying the theme intact through a spectrum of modulations. The remaining two movements of D. 537 taper in length (and importance, I think).
The later sonata (1823) lack forthright heroism, but Schubert brings more subtlety and color to the page, which in a minor mode, translates into a more melancholic tint. In fact, the first movement arrives at cataclysm early; Coker gets a Mussorgskian "Pictures" sonority from his Bösendorfer, octaves pealing with desolate cries.
Fine notes and still better sound round out this attractive production.
Copyright © 1997, Robert J. Sullivan