I think it might have actually helped to not be in the Clark Library’s fantastical neo-baroque music room, but rather a dumpy heavily-used classroom in Schoenberg Hall last Sunday. The leaks from the rain (rain?!) chased us out of the scheduled recital hall.
The Pacifica wasn’t fussed. If anything, their Bartók—with a Haydn chaser in-between—was laser-intense.
In Bartók's #2, the second movement has a headlong wildness that teeters on the verge of chaos. Then comes a long movement of introspection so absolute it’s neither insouciant nor grave. The Haydn third movement had the same violent slashing tutti chords, but the mood was entirely different: Pulcinello acting up.
Both Bartóks ended with heart-stopping quietness—a single note, a phrase cut off. Both went very far out, but found a way home.
It good to watch the players watch each other, and sit with an audience listening as intently as the playing.