Crumb: Black Angels - Jones: String Quartet No. 6 and Sonatina for Violin & Piano
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL283     Release Date: 2010-02-16
New York String Quartet: Paul Zukofsky, violin; Romuald Teco, violin; Jean Dupouy, viola; Timothy Eddy, cello; Gilbert Kalish, piano

George Crumb writes:

Black Angels (Thirteen Images From The Dark Land) was conceived as a kind of parable on our troubled contemporary world. The numerous quasi-programmatic allusions in the work are therefore symbolic, although the essential polarity — God versus Devil — implies more than a purely metaphysical reality. The image of the "black angel" was a conventional device used by early painters to symbolize the fallen angel.

The underlying structure of Black Angelsis a huge arch-like design which is suspended from the three "Threnody" pieces. The work portrays a voyage of the soul. The three stages of this voyage are Departure (fall from grace), Absence (spiritual annihilation), and Return (redemption).

The numerological symbolism of Black Angels, while perhaps not immediately perceptible to the ear, is nonetheless quite faithfully reflected in the musical structure. These "magical" relationships are variously expressed — e.g. in terms of phrase-length, groupings for single tones, durations, patterns of repetition, etc. An important pitch element in the work — ascending D-sharp, A, and E — also symbolizes the fateful numbers 7-13. At certain points in the score there occurs a kind of ritualistic counting in various languages, including German, French, Russian, Hungarian, Japanese, and Swahili.

Charles Jones writes:

"The six string quartets which I have written might be considered as a musical diary which I have kept through the years. The first one dates from student days, the second (1944) is already concerned with the special sonorities possible in this medium, the third (1951) is more complex in texture and probably the most dissonant, the fourth (1954) is more simple and lyrical, and the fifth (1961) again is much taken up with special sonorities.

"I feel that in a large and general way, two diverse elements are juxtaposed in the Sixth Quartet (1970). One is the element of fanfare (or other somewhat stirring sounds) and the second is a kind of lyricism normally associated with the voice. As both of these elements are, in a sense, foreign to the nature of the strings, it was necessary to translate them into the medium of the quartet.

"The Sonatina for Violin and Piano was written in California in 1942 and had its first performance at the International Society for Contemporary Music in Berkeley, California that summer. The performers then were Sascha Jacobsen, violin and Maxim Shapiro, piano."


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New York String Quartet

Crumb: Black Angels - Jones: String Quartet No. 6 and Sonatina for Violin & Piano

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Track Listing

Black Angels, Pt. 1 Departure: I. Threnody I. Night of the Electric Insects
George Crumb
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Black Angels, Pt. 1 Departure: II. Sounds of Bones and Flutes
George Crumb
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Black Angels, Pt. 1 Departure: III. Lost Bells
George Crumb
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Black Angels, Pt. 1 Departure: IV. Devil-Music
George Crumb
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Black Angels, Pt. 1 Departure: V. Danse Macabre
George Crumb
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Black Angels, Pt. 2 Absence: VI. Pavana Lachrymae
George Crumb
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Black Angels, Pt. 2 Absence: VII. Threnody II. Black Angels!
George Crumb
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Black Angels, Pt. 2 Absence: VIII. Sarabanda de la muerte oscura
George Crumb
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Black Angels, Pt. 2 Absence: IX. Lost Bells
George Crumb
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Black Angels, Pt. 3 Return: X. God-Music
George Crumb
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Black Angels, Pt. 3 Return: XI. Ancient Voices
George Crumb
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Black Angels, Pt. 3 Return: XII. Ancient Voices (Echo)
George Crumb
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Black Angels, Pt. 3 Return: XIII. Threnody III. Night of the Electric Insects
George Crumb
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String Quartet No. 6: I. Allegro moderato
Charles Jones
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String Quartet No. 6: II. Second Movement
Charles Jones
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String Quartet No. 6: III. Adagio, ma non troppo e molto cantabile
Charles Jones
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String Quartet No. 6: IV. Fourth Movement
Charles Jones
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Sonatina: I. Allegro
Charles Jones
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Sonatina: II. Larghetto
Charles Jones
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Sonatina: III. Allegro deciso
Charles Jones
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