The Last Hotel: Donnacha Dennehy

Release date: 03/15/2019
Format: CD / Digital
Cat No:  CA21143

  1. The Last Hotel 
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
Format: CD/Digital 

Track listing:
  1. Sam Perkin – Grey Area 

Blending the essence of street skateboarding with contemporary music, Grey Area is a hypnotic journey through the streets, leading us to secrets that we find only if we are open to them. - Sam Perkin
Grey Area is a skateboarding film with live original score. Shot and edited by skate photographer and videographers Niall O’Byrne and Sam Curtin, with music by young Cork composer and skater Sam Perkin, performed by Crash Ensemble, Ireland’s leading new music group. 

Composed by Sam Perkin. Performed by Crash Ensemble. Grey Area was commissioned by Engage Arts Festival, Bandon to the Sea with funds from the Arts Council. 
This is the first release on Crash Records, Crash Ensemble’s own label.

Composer / Director: Sam Perkin
Instrumentation: Ensemble and Street Skateboarding Film
Duration: 20 min
Performer: Crash Ensemble
World Première: Musica Nova Helsinki, Finland (2nd February 2019)
Irish Première: Music Town Dublin, Ireland (19 April 2019)
Commissioned by: Engage Arts Festival for Crash Ensemble with funds from the Arts Council of Ireland
Supported by: The Arts Council of Ireland
Crash Ensemble: Susan Doyle (Flute), Leonie Bluett (Clarinet), Roddy OKeeffe (Trombone), Andrew Zolinsky (Piano), Brian Bolger (Electric Guitar), Owen Gunnelll (Percussion), Alex Petcu (Percussion), Larissa OGrady (Violin), Lisa Dowdall (Viola), Kate Ellis (Cello), Caimin Gilmore (Double Bass)
Cinematography: NOB / Sam Curtin
Skateboarders: Charles Neilson / Paddy Walsh
Music recording 
Produced, mixed and mastered: Adrian Hart
Recording Engineer: Alan Kelly 
Assistant Recording Engineer: Daniel Loughran
Artwork: Niall OByrne
Design: Gareth Jones

Surface Tension / Disposable Dissonance

Label: New Amsterdam
Release date: 28 June 2019
Format: CD/Digital 

Track listing:
  1. Surface Tension
  2. Disposable Dissonance

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

Label: Naxos
Release date: 01/2018
Format: CD
Cat No: 8.579023

Track listing:
Persian Echoes
1.  I. Andante, Allegro 
2.  II. Tranquillo 
3.  III. Allegro 
4.  I. Allegro 
5.  II. Mourning 
Lucid Dreams
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.



Label: Crash Records
Release date: 14 September 2019
Format: CD/Digital 

To mark their 20th anniversary, Crash Ensemble presented CrashLands -  new works from 20 Irish and international composers, premiered in rural locations scattered across their native homeland of Ireland. CrashLands, the album, is the studio recording of nineteen of those works by some of the leading composers of new music - Peter Adriaansz, Gerald Barry, Ed Bennett, Linda Buckley, Séan Clancy, Ann Cleare, Tansy Davies, Donnacha Dennehy, Roger Doyle, Amanda Feery, Michael Gordon, Andrew Hamilton, David Lang, Paul Lansky, Kate Moore, Nico Muhly, Naomi Pinnock, Kevin Volans and Julia Wolfe.

Crash ensemble also commissioned filmmakers Feel Good Lost and Laura Sheehan to capture and respond to this intimate portrait of new music in Ireland. As much a tribute to the stunning landscapes of Ireland as it is a concert tour, CrashLands created a magical experience for live audiences. Watch CrashLands videos and short documentary here

Flute: Susan Doyle
Clarinet: Deirdre O’Leary, Leonie Bluett 
Trombone: Roddy O’Keeffe, Colm O’Hara 
Electric Guitar: Barry O’Halpin, Brian Bolger
Percussion: Owen Gunnell, Alex Petcu
Piano: Eliza McCarthy, Máire Carroll
Violin: Larissa O’Grady, Ciaran McCabe, Courtney Orlando 
Viola: Lisa Dowdall
Cello: Kate Ellis
Double/Electric Bass: Malachy Robinson, Caimin Gilmore

Conductor: Malachy Robinson [Antenoux, Crash Codes]
Internal direction: Kate Ellis, Malachy Robinson, Owen Gunnell. 

Producer, Mix and Master Engineer: Adrian Hart
Recording Engineer: Alan Kelly 
Assistant Recording Engineer: Daniel Loughran
Artwork: Laura Sheeran, Christian Tierney, Brendan Canty. 
Design: Gareth Jones

All works commissioned by Crash Ensemble with support from the Arts Council of Ireland. Recording supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and Dublin City Council.


Andrew Hamilton: Music for People

Label: NMC
Release date: 20 April 2018
Format: CD / Digital
Cat No:  NMC D240

Track Listing: 
  1. music for people who like art
  2. To The People
  3. music for roger casement
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
Crash Ensemble
Ives Ensemble
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


Ghosts: Crash Ensemble (2017)

The Crash Ensemble has already cemented its place at the center of Irish contemporary music in the early 21st century. Ghosts simply confirms the band’s importance. The playing is confident and incisive – as it would have to be to negotiate these four works, each of which provides both rhythmic and textural challenges. Nico Muhly’s “Drones, Variations, Ornaments” unfolds gradually, accumulating restless energy until it sails along on the kinetic rhythms of American postminimalism. A striking coda reveals the chamber orchestra lurking beneath the brash new music ensemble. 
Icelandic composer/producer Valgeir Sigurðsson also offers two ways of looking at the ensemble. The title track, Ghosts, features a dark, moody texture that reflects Sigurðsson’s interest in electroacoustic sounds. Past Tundra is such a marvel of steady, pulsing, but cleverly syncopated rhythm that it may be easy to miss the poignant harmonies that characterize most of the work until its buoyant finale. 
Unsurprisingly, Donnacha Dennehy, a co-founder of the ensemble, revels in the “classic” Crash sound in his piece As An Nos, with its layering of rhythmic cells, its instruments echoing or moving in hocket with each other, and its fabric of tightly woven musical threads. Dennehy offers a kaleidoscopic range of instrumental colors from one moment to the next in the work’s tremulous middle section, but the piece gradually asserts itself and becomes an insistent, chattering conversation of rhythms. As An Nos (and the record as a whole) presents a real challenge to both band and conductor, but in the best “never let them see you sweat” tradition, Crash pull it off with a bravura finish. 


Forced March: David Lang

Label: Canteloupe
Release date: 01/03/2017
Format: Digital
Cat No: CA21130S

Track listing:
David Lang & Crash Ensemble -
  1. forced march
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

Pause : Jonathan Nangle

Label: Ergodos
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.


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)

Written especially for Iarla O’ Lionáird and the Crash Ensemble, and commissioned by Trinity College, Grá agus Bás is inspired by the moments of ecstasy (both luscious and dark) within a number of particular Sean Nós songs, but especially Aisling Gheal, and uses these as a collective point of departure for a journey exploring the themes of love and death in a non-narrative context. Technically, it may be of interest to know that the treatment of pitches (and harmony) in this piece oscillates between an equal tempered and a quasi just-tuned spectral approach. Basically it is usually equal tempered when it is harmonically mobile, and just-tuned when it is harmonically static.
— Donnacha Dennehy


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)

Label: NMC
Release date: 4 June 2007
Format: CD/Digital 
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.
Paddy was recorded in Harlem, The Netherlands in 2003.
Junk Box Fraud was recorded at Pulse Studios, Dublin in 2000, and Streetwalker at Westland Studios, Dublin in 2004.
Elastic Harmonic was recorded in the National Concert Hall, Dublin on 30 January 2007.
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

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