The first "Music for Mischa" concert opened that four-program chamber music series strongly but with a bit of a handicap Sunday at Gindi Auditorium.
In music by Mozart, Schubert and John Harbison, cellist Robert Martin and violinist Miwako Watanabe showed the deep partnership that developed over the many years in which they were members of the Sequoia String Quartet.
Pianist Antoinette Perry contributed playing that was fluent, accurate and straightforward, but therein lies the rub. It was not at the same level of character and imagination, or detailed, nuanced interpretation as her colleagues created.
Perhaps the strongest ensemble work came in Harbison's 1969 Piano Trio, a work of about seven minutes organized in brief episodes which often contrasted declamatory piano with dulcet string motives. The three players skillfully negotiated the serial episodes which grow longer, less easily demarcated and culminate in a sequence of bold, dramatic flourishes before the piece ends with surprising, quirky, quick strokes from the piano.