The Ciompi Quartet: "Black Angels"
When George Crumb's Black Angels was premiered in 1970, the composer said it had been "conceived as a kind of parable on our troubled contemporary world." The piece remains one of Crumb's most influential and pioneering works, using electronics, vocalizations, crystal glasses and suspended gongs to create a haunting string quartet. It is paired here with Schubert's similarly harrowing "Death and the Maiden" Quartet, written nearly 150 years earlier but whose famous theme is quoted in Crumb's work. While Black Angels was a lamentation of the raging Vietnam War, Schubert's masterpiece was written when the composer was in a similarly despairing period of darkness.
Formed here at Duke University in 1965, the Ciompi Quartet's career has spanned nearly seven decades. The ensemble's members are all professors at Duke and perform as distinguished solo players as well as instrumental teachers and chamber artists.