The Pacifica Quartet may now be based in Bloomington, Indiana, but it’s clear that they retain their roots at the University of Chicago, where the popular ensemble drew a capacity audience Sunday afternoon at the Logan Center.
Along with its other residencies at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the quartet has served for a decade as resident performing artist at UC. The Pacifica Quartet’s UC status has now been bolstered with its being named the first Don Michael Randel Ensemble in Residence in honor of the University of Chicago’s president emeritus. The title, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which Randel also headed for seven years, will endow a permanent chamber music post at the university, as noted by Randel and other officials in pre-concert remarks.
Sunday’s borsht-and potatoes program of Mozart, Shostakovich and Brahms for the University of Chicago Presents series played to the Pacifica’s considerable strengths and delivered compelling and insightful performances. Still, one wishes the Pacifica’s non-Contempo Chicago programs would show some of the spirit of repertorial adventure that the ensemble was once noted for, exploring more offbeat repertory and neglected American music.