Surface Tension / Disposable Dissonance
Label: New Amsterdam
Release date: 28 June 2019
New Amsterdam Records will release Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy’s albumSurface Tension / Disposable Dissonanceon June 28, 2019. The album is named for the two single-movement compositions featured on the recording -- “Surface Tension,” which is performed by Chicago-based, Grammy-winning percussion quartet Third Coast Percussion, and “Disposable Dissonance,” which is performed by the Dublin-based and internationally renowned Crash Ensemble, which Dennehy founded.
Dennehy’s “Disposable Dissonance” features three continuous sections driven by different concepts of dissonance, each one “disposing” of it in a different way. In the first section, Dennehy explores pitch suspensions by using overtones that creep into the harmony, then resolve the dissonance by going into lower overtones against the ensemble. In the second section, the concept of dissonance plays out entirely on an equal-tempered field with an ever-increasing use of rhythmic consonance and dissonance that ultimately reaches its peak in the third and final section. Dennehy wrote this version of the piece specifically for the unique instrumentation of the Crash Ensemble, which he founded in 1997 after returning to Ireland after studies abroad and has since performed many of Dennehy’s landmark works. Disposable Dissonance was originally commissioned by Icebreaker with funds provided by the Arts Council of Ireland. Crash Ensemble premiered the revised version of the piece at the Huddersfield Festival in the UK in November 2012.
The album is made possible in part from the University Committee on Research in Humanities and Social Sciences, Princeton University; Third Coast Percussion; and Crash Ensemble.
Persian Echoes : A.M Tafreshi Pour
Release date: 01/2018
Cat No: 8.579023
1. I. Andante, Allegro
2. II. Tranquillo
3. III. Allegro
4. I. Allegro
5. II. Mourning
6. Lucid Dreams
Yearning in C
7. Yearning in C
Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour is a leading composer from Iran whose music reaches across time and continents, being at once universal, richly exotic, and filled with the composer’s own exhilarating joy in creativity. The first ever Iranian harp concerto, Persian Echoes, weaves together Western classical heritage with sounds associated with Persian traditional music, including evocative modes and the lively rhythms of the region’s folk music. Improvisation is used compellingly in the rhapsodic Lucid Dreams, the light and darkness of Yearning in C and the vast landscape of Alas.
The Last Hotel: Donnacha Dennehy
Label: Cantaloupe Music
Release date: 03/15/2019
Format: CD / Digital
Cat No: CA21143
Reviewing the world premiere in Edinburgh of composer Donnacha Dennehy and playwright Enda Walsh’s opera The Last Hotel, The Guardian’s Kate Molleson was smitten by “a dark drama in which death hangs over every move – the titular hotel is a shabby establishment where guests go to kill themselves.”
That description alone is all the listener needs to appreciate the visceral energy of the performances captured here by Claudia Boyle, Robin Adams, Katherine Manley and actor Mikel Murfi (whose presence as the silent Porter is more implied than directly felt), all ably supported by the agile, dynamic sound of Ireland’s renowned Crash Ensemble, conducted by Alan Pierson.
“It’s great to work with someone like Enda, who’s a genius in his own field,” Dennehy observed in an interview shortly before the premiere. “The opera is about an English couple who arrive in Ireland to meet this Irish woman, and basically as it goes on, you realize that the Irish woman wants to kill herself, with their assistance. But it’s incredibly funny in places, despite the tragic subject matter.”
In the true spirit of modern musical theater, which has consistently pushed against the boundaries of what constitutes “opera” in the traditional Western classical sense, The Last Hotel merges the grit and gall of experimental theater and independent arthouse films with the crackling trajectory of post-classical chamber music. It’s a multivalent work that reunites Dennehy and Walsh, two of Ireland’s leading creative lights, in a collaborative triumph that recalls the poignancy and power of their work together on Walsh’s Misterman, which starred actor Cillian Murphy and garnered rave reviews in Galway, London and New York.
Ultimately, The Last Hotel is the first in a trilogy of operas planned between Dennehy and Walsh. The Second Violinist (2017), their second opera together, won the Fedora-Generali Prize for Opera in Salzburg, and has received critically acclaimed productions in Ireland and the UK already. It travels to the Netherlands in March 2019 as part of Dutch National Opera’s Opera Forward Festival in Amsterdam. Dennehy and Walsh are now collaborating on the final opera of their trilogy, The First Child.
This recording of The Last Hotel is culled from a 2017 live performance at Les Théâtres de la Ville in Luxembourg, with additional recording and mixing done at Teldex Studio Berlin.
“The Last Hotel unleashes a thrilling musical energy. Dennehy’s 12-piece ensemble includes accordion, electric guitar and heavy percussion, and thrums with a savage, unstoppable groove, shouting the unspeakable, seething with emotions that characters are too numb to express. It’s propulsive, gritty and rich.” — The Guardian
Grey Area: Sam Perkin
Label: Crash Records
Release date: 19 April 2019
Cat No: CRENSEP01
Andrew Hamilton: Music for People
Release date: 20 April 2018
Format: CD / Digital
Cat No: NMC D240
Andrew Hamilton was born in Dublin in 1977 and studied in Ireland, England and The Netherlands with composers Kevin Volans, Anthony Gilbert and Louis Andriessen. His music has been described as post-minimalist, playful, unique and unpredictable - "I use a lot of repetition to create a state of unease, ambiguity, and sometimes joy, and also to laugh at the world" Hamilton explains.
In music for people who like art (2010) for voice and ensemble, Hamilton sets text from American artist Ad Reinhardt's '25 Lines of Words on Art: Statement' (1958). The phrase 'ART IS ART' is continually repeated, each occurence with a change of dynamics, tempo and delivery.
To The People for soprano and percussion is in 19 movements, lasting from a few seconds to a few minutes. It sets excerpts from French philosopher Jean Baudrillard's book America, and revolves around a simple melody that transfers, with subtle modifications, between voice and percussion.
music for roger casement (2006) is a quasi-chamber concerto for harmonium and gets its name from the Ulster-born diplomat who, after reporting on atrocities in the Congo and South America, was executed by the British for treason for seeking to aid Irish revolutionary efforts (in the course of which trial his then-illegal homosexual activity was aired). The Dutch-based Ives Ensemble, for which this piece was written, effortlessly take on the technical demands of this frenzied piece, which has a lasting impact.
Michelle O'Rourke voice
Juliet Fraser soprano
Maxime Echardour percussion
Alan Pierson conductor
‘One has the impression that Hamilton composes with a barely suppressed grin. It is infectious’ Composition Today
‘see if it doesn’t make you drop everything and listen to it all the way through’ AllMusic
‘music for people who like art … the nearest thing to a smash hit that one is likely to encounter in contemporary music circles.’ Journal of Music
'Striking ... zany...' Gramophone
music for people who like art was recorded at Windmill Lane Recording Studios, Dublin on 21 September 2016
ADRIAN HART Recording Engineer & Producer
To The People was recorded at Snape Maltings on 1-2 July 2016
DAVID LEFEBER Recording Engineer & Producer
music for roger casement was recorded live by Stichting NTR at Muziekgebouw aan't IJ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands on 29 November 2006
DICK LUCAS (Stichting NTR, Hilversum) Recording Technician
Pause : Jonathan Nangle
Release date: 14 July 2014
Format: CD / Digital
Dublin composer Jonathan Nangle’s transcendent music for strings comes to life in these luminous recordings by Crash Ensemble, Ireland’s leading ensemble for adventurous new music. Pause is the debut album from a composer whose work draws on a carefully selected palette of ravishingly beautiful materials. This is music of serene focus; often fragile, always intricately woven.
In Where distant city lights flicker on half-frozen ponds (2011), Nangle enhances a solo violin with electronic resonators which subtly colour the musical material like a heat shimmer. My heart stopped a thousand beats (2008) is a slow ritual for viola and cello, unhurriedly unfurling into a series of fragments.
The mercurial title track, Pause (2015), was inspired by the idea of data glitches in both music and visual media. A snippet of music by early twentieth-century American composer Charles Ives is processed, rearranged and deliberately glitched, serving as as a springboard to new material. The two Fragment tracks also featured on the album are short improvisations on passages that occur within Pause – reflections of fleeting images.
The album closes with Tessellate (2016) for cello and electronics, inspired by the phenomena of tessellations, where a shape is repeated over and over again, covering a plane without any gaps. Here, Nangle works with skewed repetition to create a feeling of inevitable groove, at once highly compelling and ungraspable.
Jonathan Nangle (1981) is a composer whose work explores many diverse fields – from notated acoustic and electro-acoustic compositions, through live and spatially distributed electronics, to video, sound installation and electronic improvisation. His work has been featured at numerous festivals, choreographed for film and stage, and broadcast internationally. jonathannangle.com
Ghosts: Crash Ensemble (2017)
First release on Bedroom Community label featuring newly commissioned works by Valgeir Sigurðsson, Donnacha Dennehy and Nico Muhly.
Forced March: David Lang
Release date: 01/03/2017
Cat No: CA21130S
David Lang & Crash Ensemble -
Cantaloupe kicks off Bang on a Can's 30th anniversary year with the digital release of David Lang's "forced march," from his forthcoming large ensemble CD writing on water. Recorded at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin (famous for its connection to U2's seminal rock album The Joshua Tree) and performed by the Crash Ensemble, the piece embodies a marauding rock sensibility within a classical framework, and features John Godfrey on electric guitar, Malachy Robinson on bass, and Owen Gunnell on percussion.
Conducted by Alan Pierson
Produced, edited and mixed by Donnacha Dennehy
Barry Meets Beethoven (2016)
Ireland’s leading vocal ensemble releases an album of works by Irish composer Gerald Barry, featuring premieres of two major works that dramatise key episodes in the life of Beethoven.
Chamber Choir Ireland has earned a reputation for its innovative programming and committed singing style, especially in the field of contemporary choral music.
Crash Ensemble is Ireland’s leading new music ensemble; a group of world-class musicians who play the most adventurous, ground-breaking music of today.
Donnacha Dennehy: Grá agus Bás (2011)
Various composers: Resonant Relations (2008)
Arnold Dreyblatt on Resonant Relations:
With support from the Irish Arts Council in 2004, I was commissioned by the Crash Ensemble, Dublin to compose a new work. During a series of intense working visits over a one and half year period, members the ensemble was introduced to the Dreyblatt tuning system. The Crash Ensemble is the only group outside of my own previous ensembles which has learned to perform in my intonation of 21 unequal tones based on the first eleven partials of the harmonic series and their multiples. The resulting work, "Resonant Relations" was composed for flutes (wooden and metal), trombone, violin, viola, cello, contrabass, harpsichord, and percussion (timpanies, snare and bass drum, metal pieces).
The work was first performed at the Sugar Club in Dublin on 27 October 2005 in a program co-curated with Crash artistic director Donnacha Dennehy which included performances of compositions by my two composition teachers La Monte Young and Alvin Lucier.
On "twentyfive chords in twentyfive in ninety four variations"
Gelbe Musik ("Yellow Music") is a gallery and record/cd store in Berlin which specializes in contemporary music. Internationally known, "Gelbe Musik" has become somewhat of an institution in Berlin over the years. For the 25th anniversary in 2006, director Ursula Block asked me to create an exhibition of early scores from 1976-1981, which I entitled, "Working Papers". "twentyfive chords in twentyfive in ninety four variations" was one of two pieces which I composed for the occasion, and which was presented on a limited signed edition CD of 25 copies. The piece proceeds through 95 variations of 25 chords which are based upon the pitch of the 25th harmonic, which is used in my tuning scale.
Donnacha Dennehy: Elastic Harmonic (2007)
Release date: 4 June 2007
Cat No: NMC D133
Composed by Donnacha Dennehy: Elastic Harmonic features performances by Crash Ensemble, Darragh Morgan, Ensemble Integrales & RTE National Symphony Orchestra.
Glamour Sleeper was recorded in Illingen, Germany in May 2003.
Recorded by SAARLÄNDISCHER RUNDFUNK Saarbrücken.
Producer: WOLFGANG KORB for for Saarländischer Rundfunk.
Editor: MARKO CICILIANI
Paddy was recorded in Harlem, The Netherlands in 2003.
Engineer: GUIDO TICHELMAN
Producer: RUTGER VAN OTTERLOO
Junk Box Fraud was recorded at Pulse Studios, Dublin in 2000, and Streetwalker at Westland Studios, Dublin in 2004.
Producer: DONNACHA DENNEHY
Editors KIERAN LYNCH and DONNACHA DENNEHY
Elastic Harmonic was recorded in the National Concert Hall, Dublin on 30 January 2007.
Engineer: ANTON TIMONEY
Producer: DONNACHA DENNEHY
Supported by RTÉ
pAt was recorded at RTÉ Studios, Dublin in 2001, with the kind assistance of Lyric FM.
Producer & editor: DONNACHA DENNEHY
Executive Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS
Cover photo: SOPHIE ELBRICK DENNEHY
Design: FRANCOIS HALL
Elastic Harmonic (P) 2007 RTÉ
Glamour Sleeper (P) 2007 SAARLÄNDISCHER RUNDFUNK Saarbrücken.
All other works (P) 2007 NMC Recordings Ltd.
"Giddy, visceral urban techno avant-gardism" Gramophone
"The performances are fresh, furious and frenetic ... The essence of his [Dennehy's] style embraces obvious aspects of minimalism – feisty and explosive in the crazed electro-acoustic idiom of Junk Box Fraud ... mesmerising and liquid in the newest work featured, Dennehy's 2005 Elastic Harmonic for violin and orchestra." Scotsman
"Dennehy likes to imbue his pieces with an urban energy and drive them with the punchy impact of a rock band. He also likes and air of derangement, as if to suggest both a breaching of conventional boundaries and Jean Tinguely-like disintegration" Irish Times
‘The performances are all topnotch … Koleva and MacGregor are both outstanding in precision and vitality.’ Fanfare