With his cunning wisps of dance tunes and church harmonies, Schubert gives even the mildly astute performer an easy way into his music.
But Imogen Cooper doesn't have the kind of mind that lends itself to the easy way in, or out. The London pianist, in Wednesday night's all-Schubert recital at the Perelman Theater, introduced an air of struggle and vulnerability that went far beyond the usual highlighting of abrupt mood swings, major-minor ambiguity, and the composer's signature dialogue between the keyboard's soprano and baritone voices.
Her first 21 bars of the A Minor Sonata: A whispered horror, maybe only a rumor of what we are up against. An echo confirms and deepens our fears. New material introduces the antagonist and conflict. Our hero is nearly beat, but manages to turn back menace.