BLACK ANGELS (1970)
Thirteen Images from the Dark Land
George Crumb (b. 1929 Charleston, West Virginia
1. Threnody 1: Night of the Electric Insects
2. Sounds of Bones and Flutes
3. Lost Bells
5. Danse Macabre
6. Pavana Lachrymae
7. Threnody II: Black Angels!
8. Sarabanda da la Muerte Oscura
9. Lost Bells
11. Ancient Voices
12. Ancient Voices (Echo)
13. Threnody III: Night of the Electric Insects
Things were turned upside down. There were terrifying things in the air... they found their way into Black Angels. - George Crumb, 1990
Black Angels is probably the only quartet to have been inspired by the Vietnam War. The work draws from an arsenal of sounds including shouting, chanting, whistling, whispering, gogns, maracas, and crystal glasses. The score bears two inscriptions: in tempore belli (in time of war) and Finished on Friday the Thirteenth, March, 1970.
"Black Angels was conceived as a kind of parable on our troubled contemporary world. 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 symbolusm of Black Angels, while perhaps not immediately percptible to the ear, is nonetheless quite faithfully reflected in the musical structure. These 'magical' relationships are variously expressed; e.g., in terms of length, groupings of single tones, durations, patterns of repetition, etc..... There are several allusions to tonal music: a quotation from Schubert's 'Death of the Maiden' quartet; an original Sarabanda; the sustained B-major tonality of God-Music; and several refernces to the Latin sequence, Dies Irae (Day of Wrath). The work abounds in conventional musical symbolisms such as the Diabolus in Musica (the interval of the tritone) and the Trillo Di Diavolo (the Devil's trill, after Tartini)." - George Crumb