At The Wallis: Miró Quartet with Special Guest Kevin Puts 

By Diane Sippl



Daniel Ching, violin; Joshua Gindele, cello; John Largess, viola; William Fedkenheuer, violin

Genuine poetry communicates before it’s understood. 

—T. S. Eliot

Part of the pleasure of attending a concert is the shared performance, the celebration of music by the mere fact that it's being offered live, in-the-moment (even if it's been rehearsed).  And part of the excitement of that spontaneity is the unique delivery (even—and especially—if the music is already familiar to the listener).  And a good part of the sheer enjoyment of that special interpretation is the creativity of the one who composed it and the beauty of the musical language.

All three of these delights were on tap at the May 20th program in the Bram Goldsmith Theater at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, where both the Miró Quartet and guest composer Kevin Puts introduced the performances based on another element entirely: the story behind the music. “Schubert was well-versed in Mozart’s work and strongly admired him, just as Brahms saw the genius in Schumann and remained his close friend,” violist John Largess told the audience, then proceeding to inform us of the contexts in which each one composed the music to be performed.  “We’re starting off the evening in the key of C, and finishing it in C… minor!”  He all but apologized for the downshift in emotional tone. 

Kevin Puts, Composer, “Home”

Kevin Puts, composer of the centerpiece of the evening, “Home,” likewise shared a narrative of his impetus for creating his work.  Walking down the streets of New York City (far from his birthplace in Michigan), he reflected on all those in the world today, for example Syrians who have fled to Europe, who have left their homes, perhaps forever, and all the new circumstances they faced. Puts explained to the audience, “I wanted to start with something familiar, comforting, then move through tension, turmoil.  And I knew I wanted to somehow return to the musical idea at the opening, but with a difference; it would be altered in some way by the journey.”

Interesting as these introductions could be, the fact is that the music stood on its own.  So keenly chosen were the selections in the program, both as beautiful separate entities and as compelling pieces of one puzzle—the grand, fragmented puzzle of life’s upheavals, ruptures, promises, and disappointments—that nothing could surpass the music.  “I could listen to it all day,” confided the person next to me as we rose for the intermission.  That’s as it should be.  Music is a companion for moving through life.  And like poetry, it’s experienced viscerally before meaning kicks in.  Music is poetry without words.

The Miró Quartet 

No words could convey Mozart’s deliberate “dissonance,” the dialogue with Death in Schubert’s ear, the distress of exile felt by Puts, the depth of Brahms’ sadness at Schumann’s demise.  But their music expresses it utterly.  Listening, we sense it long before we understand it.

Admittedly, this is also owing to the talent and masterful execution of the Miró Quartet itself.  So cohesive an ensemble is this group of musicians that we perceive even their dynamic tension as one whole, each performer playing with verve and force.  This is not a staid quartet, no matter whose compositions leap from the stage.  Bows fly with zeal, from that of lead violinist Daniel Ching to that of cellist Joshua Gindele, who appeared particularly astute at timing his entrances with effect.  A committed intensity permeated the hall, from strings plucked and strummed for a playfulness with form and richness of feeling.


Taking their name from the Surrealist artist Joan Miró who drew from dreams and fantasy, the performers pride themselves in delivering the classical repertoire of the string quartet, but with a new excitement just the same.  That flair arrived and filled the air, where no words could suffice, nor needed to.


The Program

W.A. MOZART (1756-1791)

String Quartet in C major, K. 465, “Dissonance”


FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Andante con moto from String Quartet in D minor, D. 810 “Death and the Maiden”






Scherzo from String Quartet in A minor, Op. 41, No. 1



String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 51, No. 1


The Artists

Kevin Puts, Composer, “Home”

Miró Quartet:

Daniel Ching, violin; William Fedkenheuer, violin; John Largess, viola; Joshua Gindele, cello.


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