Pacifica Quartet, CARTER: String Quartets Nos. 1 and 5
Although they were written nearly 50 years apart, you can easily hear the same hand at work in Elliott Carter's String Quartet No. 1 and No. 5. Carter has always been a searching composer, starting out in the 1930's as a restrained neo-classicist and eventually moving to headier, more atonal work. Both of these quartets are part of that latter-day style.
Listening to it, you can't help but wonder how the Pacifica Quartet was able to a) learn these pieces and then, more importantly, b) imbue them with feeling. There's little like this in the classical canon. Sibbi Bernhardsson of the Pacifica Quartet agreed, when asked about it on a recent Naxos podcast, saying "It's a language that nothing in our training had prepared us to do. His whole concept is to keep the music in a constant state of flux." Luckily, as you'll hear throughout, the group is more than up to the challenge of Carter's work and performs splendidly on both the longer pieces of the 1st and the spikier, more compact 5th. Flux never sounded so good.