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Black Angels


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Audio CD, June 21, 1990
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Mumford and Sons Concert Sweepstakes Mumford and Sons Concert Sweepstakes


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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Black Angels: I. Departure 5:37$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Black Angels: II. Absence 5:25$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Black Angels: III. Return 7:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Spem in Alium 8:52$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Doom. A Sigh10:54Album Only
listen  6. They Are There! Fighting for the People's New Free World 2:47$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Quartet No. 8: I. Largo 4:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Quartet No. 8: II. Allegro molto 2:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Quartet No. 8: III. Allegretto 4:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Quartet No. 8: IV. Largo 4:10$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen11. Quartet No. 8: V. Largo 3:57$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Performer: Kronos Quartet
  • Audio CD (June 21, 1990)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000005J0D
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,730 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

No Description Available.
Genre: Classical Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Rating:
Release Date: 3-JUL-1990

Amazon.com

The title to Kronos's most bleak album comes from a nearly 20- minute-long composition by American composer George Crumb that unfolds over 13 distinct parts. That ominous number only hints at the horror Crumb intended as an ode to the Vietnam War. War informs the whole CD: Shostakovich's Quartet No. 8, composed near the height of the Cold War, in 1960, was dedicated "to the victims of fascism and war." "Doom. A Sigh," by Istvan Marta, incorporates field recordings of two Romanian women singing personal laments of fallen friends and relatives; their grief is so intense as to render listening incredibly difficult. The original text to 16th-century composer Thomas Tallis's "Spem in Alium" (originally a 40-voice motet) recalled a biblical battle. And late American composer Charles Ives is heard singing (yes, singing) "They Are There!"--a ditty he wrote during the Great War and revisited for World War II; he's joined here by the Kronos, half a century after his death, in an act of studio magic that is ingenious if not musically stimulating. --Marc Weidenbaum

Customer Reviews

A Sigh is a curiosity to hear, but just one time.
Redgecko
A Sigh." is testament to their immaculate variation in the control of force and strength to bring music up to a required emotional level.
Meekiahman
This is music to think by as it engages the intellect.
Linda A. Robinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Upon the initial listening, I felt that "Black Angels" was the only piece presented on this album that was worthwhile listening. Initially, I felt that the Tallis, Marta, and Ives pieces were useless filler tracks, and that Kronos simply didn't do a particularly good job with the Shostakovich (which, along with Black Angels, is one of the most important contributions to the string quartet this past century).
However, the entire CD begins to fall into place in one's mind. First, the Tallis piece "Spem in Alium"'s positioning in the album is fascinating and effective. After the emotionally disturbing and draining Black Angels, we hear this piece, which reaffirms much of the faith in people we lost upon hearing Black Angels.
The Istvan Marta piece is a good middle piece. It is in the same vein as Black Angels and String Quartet No 8 in that it is meant to disturb and provoke. The voice that we hear throughout the piece is not annoying, as some people have said. Listen more closely - it is a deeply moving and personal work.
The Ives lightens the mood slightly. On an album such as this, it's important to have at least one bright (ie happy) spot. Here it is in this scherzo-esque piece.
Now we come to the Shostakovich. Truthfully, I'm still not sure if I like Kronos's reading of it. Frequently it feels as though they missed the point, as though the pain and anguish never fully got through to them. It's an awfully fast reading, which is interesting in some respects. I'm still working on this, which is a good sign - it means their reading isn't bad, just different from what I'm used to.
That's sort of what this album is all about though - presenting you with a side of music you aren't generally used to. It's extremely dark and anguished, but it's important to hear this music. It's a reminder that life has a dark side.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Autonomeus on November 16, 2003
Format: Audio CD
"Black Angels," the amazing string quartet written by George Crumb in 1970 in response to the Vietnam War, is what inspired the formation of the Kronos Quartet. They set it to disc in 1990, and unfortunately it has remained a timely testament to the ongoing terror and tragedy of war. According to Crumb, "[t]he work portrays a voyage of the soul. The three stages of this voyage are Departure (fall from grace), Absence (spiritual annihilation) and Return (redemption)." It is a resolutely modern work, not the sort of thing Haydn would ever have expected. The opening is called "Night of the Electric Insects," and that gives you an idea. Absolutely brilliant

"Black Angels" is 18 minutes long, and opens the disc, and Shostakovich's 8th quartet, at 20 minutes, is the closer. Kronos gives a hard-edged reading of the famous piece, dedicated to "the victims of war and fascism." It is strongest in the louder, faster sections, and not quite as effective in the slower sections, where the Borodin Quartet conveys more feeling, more poignancy (see my review of their 1990 recording of DSCH quartets 2, 3, 7, 8, 10 & 12). A fine performance, though, of a 20th century classic.

Unfortunately I don't have much good to say about the three shorter pieces in between. I've listened to this disc many times now, and I am just not won over by the Tallis, Marta or Ives. It's fun to hear a hoarse Charlie Ives shouting and ranting about the soldiers "Fighting for the People's New Free World," but it reminds you that he was probably bipolar, and you want to tell him to take his medicine. Other than checking in now and then to see if these 3 have grown on me, I typically play either "Black Angels" or the 8th as stand-alone works, and so the 4 stars reflects the fact that the disc as a whole is less than satisfying.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Meekiahman on April 1, 2001
Format: Audio CD
'Nuts' and 'scary' are not words you use to describe classical music, but Black Angels do demand to be labeled as such. A friend once pushed this CD up my nose and challenged me to have a go at it at 3am. I obliged, though not at the appointed time, and it was more than enough for a novice classical critic like me. I tend to appreciate classical music so long if I can associate a particular piece with some universal theme, so soundtracks usually catch my attention easily. Concerning the theme of war, look no further than here. Black Angels contains musical structures that are more harrowingly depressive, manic and jarring than what you may hear in Platoon, guaranteed. "Doom. A Sigh" is the finest example, one that charges the hair around your neck with static. "Devil-music" of "Departure" from "Black Angels" by George Crumb is very effective at conjuring horrific mental images. It really SOUNDS like B-52s flying from afar and dropping their napalm, ending with a loud gong for explosion. I consider "Spem In Alium" most classically conventional...well, can't say much about it...perhaps Jerry 'The King' Lawler should adopt it as his new appearance theme, ha! The inclusion of "They Are There!" by Charles Ives is most disputable among reviewers here, but I think of it as an act of black humor. The sleeve notes say, "A black eye never reformed a drunkard, a czar never stopped a free thought." So this about sums up the vocals behind the song; Charles Ives must have been a darn drunkard to have sung so optimistically. The accompanying sometimes-a-bit-out-of-tune Kronos composition helps to amplify that perception, and I think the effect works. It brought a wry smile to my face.Read more ›
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