Mozart's "Kegelstatt" Trio derives its name from the game of skittles -- at which the great composer was presumably playing when he composed this work for his friend, the clarinetist Anton Stadler, for himself (on viola) and for a favorite piano pupil.
The origin suggested by the name suggests, in turn, a slight and playful work. And, in truth, for late Mozart (it was composed in the summer of 1786), the "Kegelstatt" Trio is exactly that. But the superb performance it received last night in Shriver Hall from clarinetist David Shifrin, violist Paul Neubauer and pianist Margo Garett suggested depths beneath its small-scaled and intimate surfaces.
This was especially true in the slow movement in the interchanges between the legato phrases of Shifrin's beautiful playing and the gruff responses of Neubauer's almost uncannily secure playing. Garrett may not be as well-known as her two celebrated colleagues, but she did not check her personality at the stage door. Her warm, sunny playing pleasingly contrasted and blended with Shifrin's playfulness and Neubauer's impassioned anguish.