So what did the group that calls itself Razoumovsky Plus Larsen offer Monday evening at the Museum of Fine Arts? Well, sort of the turn-of-the-century plus one, if you think about the fact that three of the four works on their program came from a 31-year period spanning 1879 and 1910.
And the sport? As it turns out, the opener on this Chamber Music Society of Salt Lake City program, a Trio in B minor by the baroque composer Jean-Baptiste Loeillet that sounds as though it may have been arranged from one of his trio sonatas.Even this emerged with a certain romantic flavor, courtesy of violinist Elaine Richey, cellist Robert Marsh (who in fact had the leading voice much of the time) and pianist Eric Larsen. And that was true from the mildly throbbing Largo that began the piece to the sprited Allegro that closed it, here with a few minor misses.
Nor were pitches always dead on in the work that followed, Dohnanyi's Serenade for String Trio, Op. 10. With Sally Peck replacing Larsen, the viola part was firmly projected, however, especially the important solo in the second-movement Romanza. Marsh's playing, moreover, was consistently impressive, whether in the incisiveness of the opening Marcia or the sensitive shadings he brought to the fourth-movement theme and variations. Nor was Richey's contribution to be discounted, as she tore energetically into the Scherzo and joined her colleagues in digging manfully into the Finale.
In short, this is a group of well-developed musical impulses and even a certain fearlessness, which served them well enough in this fragrant 1904 trio. It served them better, however, in the two works for piano quartet proper - the "Phantasy Quartet" of Frank Bridge and Faure's Quartet in C minor, Op. 15.
Dating from 1910, the Bridge is the obvious model for his pupil Benjamin Britten's own "Phantasy Quartet" for oboe and strings. Abstract yet full of emotion, it communicates strongly, steering a carefully maintained course between passion and reflection.
I wouldn't have minded a little more from the keyboard, where even on long stick Larsen tended to defer too much to his partners. But throughout phrases were caressed tenderly yet with feeling, the piece emerging as a unified whole.
What's more, he came into his own in the Faure, where the added profile of his playing paid especially rich dividends in the Scherzo. Ditto the controlled thrust of the finale, its mingled exultation and anxiety registering strongly. At the same time they did not neglect the music's warmth, again despite some settling-in in places.
I would not have thought the applause merited an encore. Nonetheless one was forthcoming - the finale from Brahms' Piano Quartet in G minor, variably intoned at the outset but otherwise full of dash and gypsy fire.
Which, I suppose, made it turn-of-the-century plus one and one-third.