There were no surprises in a concert given at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Bing Theater on Wednesday by the trio comprising clarinetist David Shifrin, violist Paul Neubauer and pianist Margot Garrett.
Rather, there were the pleasures of familiar repertory presented affectionately and with all-encompassing professionalism by these seasoned East Coast artists.
The mood was mellow, as would be expected from the alto colorings provided by clarinet and viola.
It took courage to open with the very heart of the small repertory for this instrumental combination, Mozart's sublime and fragile "Kegelstatt" Trio, K. 498. But the players presented it in a reading of flawless balance, the string and wind exchanges rolling out with optimum gracefulness.
If there was a novelty on the agenda it was Schubert's "Arpeggione" Sonata--played not by the usual cello (which, we are told, is closest in sound to the obsolete arpeggione, for which the piece was written) but by the viola.
To these ears, the alto instrument lends the score more substance and fluidity than the grumpier cello, at least under the present circumstances, given Neubauer's mastery and the sensitive pianism of Garrett, clearly a practiced hand at the tricky business of partnering the soft-grained, easily swamped viola.
But the show was Neubauer's, for the focused elegance of his playing, his ability to provide variety of tone and dead-center intonation.
Shifrin and Garrett proved equally companionable in a richly faceted reading of Debussy's Premiere Rhapsody, a loving backward glance at his "L'apres-midi d'un faune," and the trio reassembled for the closing "Marchenerzahlungen" (Fairy Tales) of Schumann, delivered with unassuming virtuosity and poetic warmth.