- Credo, for string quartet
The Miró Quartet, based at the University of Texas and recording live in an acoustically rather bare concert hall at that institution, here assembles a two-work chamber music program that makes much more sense than the usual combinations of repertory item and contemporary work. The Credo by New York-based composer Kevin Puts (apparently pronounced just as it would be in lowercase) reminds one of those abstract paintings that orient the viewer by using bits of representational detail. Puts has stated that his aim was to give "a tour of the places in which I found hope and solace" during "a time of both domestic and foreign atrocities" (the work was written in 2007), and each movement is a lightly representational essay taking off from a busy minimalist language not too far from later Philip Glass. There is a continuum from directly programmatic -- the delightful opening movement, "The Violin Guru of Katonah," describes a visit to a violin-maker's shop -- to more abstract concepts in the finale and in the linked second and fourth movements entitled "Infrastructure" and loosely inspired by the shapes of buildings, with the central "Learning to Dance" depicting a dance lesson. The material is focused enough to keep its momentum as it moves through these evocative scenes. All this works very well with the Dvorák "String Quartet No. 12 in F major, Op. 96, American," where the same structural relationship between basic structure and momentary detail is present. The program builds from Puts' opening measures straight through Dvorák's finale and is rewarded with sustained applause in which the listener may well feel tempted to join.