Music: Records: Pick of the Pack

George Crumb, Black Angels (13 Images from the Dark Land) for Electric String Quartet (New York String Quartet; CRI, $5.95). The avant-garde LP of the year. In 1968, as a virtual unknown of 39, Crumb won the Pulitzer Prize in music for his orchestral suite Echoes of Time and the River. In the years since, he has been winning something perhaps even more important—a reputation as one of the major innovators of American music. One hallmark of the Crumb style is his fondness for programmatic schemes that can be startling and bizarre, but usually...

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