Reviews

Selected Press Quotes 2020

Journal of Music: ...this was one of the standout concerts of the festival, as Bjarnason’s musical language drifted seamlessly between jazz and trip rock without ever quite settling in any style definitively.

Selected Press Quotes 2019

Journal of Music: Crash Ensemble received a genuinely spontaneous standing ovation at the end of Perkin’s piece that can only be an encouragement to those willing to try and repeat such outward looking initiatives. 

I Care If You Listen: Romitelli’s Professor Bad Trip was, simply, hard not to love. Crash performed with incredible energy and ferocity under the guidance of conductor Richard Baker...The work is almost absurdly difficult for its aural homogeneity, but this tension between specificity and the resultant soundscape gives the work its infamous sense of unreal, inescapable chaos, which Crash delivered as a brilliant end to the day.

Journal of Music: The Crash Ensemble delivered a knockout performance with a particular highlight being Kate Ellis’ screaming solo for cello and distortion pedal in the second lesson, which was visually as well as aurally compelling as a chastened electric guitar rested mute on the guitarist’s knee.

Selected Press Quotes 2018

★★★★4 stars The Guardian: ...A versatile house band, the Crash Ensemble String Quartet, provided consistently unexpected counterpoints along the way…(Imagining Ireland  - The Barbican) 

Selected Press Quotes 2017

★★★★★ 5 stars The Guardian: Dennehy’s dense composition, performed by Crash Ensemble, becomes an enveloping film score, with less than half of the 80-minute performance being sung. Incorporating a range of amplified sounds and overtones, it brilliantly uses percussion and staccato strings to build a sense of pressure and tension.

The Arts Review: Donnacha Dennehy’s extraordinary score contrasts an almost cinematic cohesion with a constant, dissonant unraveling, always trying to reform itself only to unravel yet again, beautifully performed by Crash Ensemble, and exquisitely conducted by Ryan McAdam.

Luxembourg Times: In addition to sound affects and lighting that skilfully create the effect of a tacky karaoke disco bar or the confinement of an elevator, the performance’s intensity is underwritten by the 12-strong Crash Ensemble as they masterfully flit between music that is grating and angst-ridden to a score which feels somehow uplifting.

Selected Press Quotes 2016

★★★★★ 5 stars The Irish Times: The string quartet First Sorrow journeys from the world of viol consorts (a private passion of the composer’s), through intense vibrato, to an otherworldly hymn, sung as well as played. Strong performances. (Barry Meets Beethoven)

★★★★ 4 stars The Examiner: Collaborative ventures between companies are often risky affairs. Too often their collaboration amounts to little more than a sequence of individually distinct works gathered under the same umbrella, something akin to an art exhibition featuring a series of individual images and scenes thematically linked. What’s fascinating about “Invitation to a Journey,” a collaborative project by Crash Ensemble, Fishamble:The New Play Company and CoisCéim Dance Theatre, along with The Galway International Arts Festival, is the manner in which it strives to create something that honours its individual disciplines of music, dance and theatre, but allows their merging to craft something fresh and exhilarating.

The Guardian: ...This year’s programme included a series of talks and debates on national identity. There was also a constant emphasis on the coming together of different art forms. I’ve already suggested this was the key to Enda Walsh’s Arlington but it was equally striking in Invitation to a Journey at Black Box theatre. This was a joint venture by CoisCéim Dance Theatre, the musical group Crash Ensemble and the Dublin-based new play company Fishamble. By working together, they offered imaginative insights into the work of the pioneering Irish furniture designer and architect Eileen Gray...

Irish Independent: Created by CoisCeim Dance Theatre, Fishamble and Crash Ensemble, the titular journey begins with Gray's grandniece concluding a lecture about her famous relative when she is approached with a lucrative offer to mass produce Gray's Roqubrune chair...David Bolger's perceptive choreography roots us in a certain world, there is an understanding of the fluid movement that Gray's design was famous for, the three dancers providing different shadows: Gray's strengths and vulnerabilities. And this is matched by Deirdre Gribbin's score, with percussionist Alex Petcu providing a virtuoso performance that mesmerises…

★★★★ 4 stars The Irish Times: Summing up Eileen Gray’s ever-versatile creativity means straddling many genres, including lacquering, furniture design and architecture, so it is apt that Invitation to a Journey draws on the theatre, dance and music of Fishamble, Coiscéim and Crash Ensemble...Deirdre Gribbin’s music is more muted, occasionally erupting like a bombastic percussion solo mirroring the rhetoric of a nude Le Corbusier painting his murals, but in general adding texture and mood rather than insight…

The Irish Times: ...The more interesting pieces in Crash Ensemble’s programme came in the first half. Daniel McDermott’s Grit sounded like a modern-day ground bass, with a pattern that was rising rather than falling, and lots of melodic spray from clarinet and piano treble over a piano that delivered punch-bag chords in the bass. Garrett Sholdice’s The Root and the Crown, dedicated to the late and much-missed musicologist Bob Gilmore, has something of the air of a spaced-out funeral march about it. It’s mostly calm but has moments that sound almost angry, before it moves into an epilogue of steadying balm.

★★★★ 4 stars Irish ExaminerThe Crash Ensemble brought the Born in the 80s program to the Good Shepherd Chapel with a program of music based on Irish composers in their 30s...The evening was a pleasantly odd experience delivered to a small audience that appeared to comprise dutifully of students and curious aficionados...

Selected Press Quotes 2015

The Irish Independent: entirely, breathtakingly glorious … this is a wonderful production; searing, powerful, funny, moving, mischievous, aphasic, devastating, beautiful.

★★★★★ 5 stars Edinburgh Guide: Put Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh in the same space and watch the sparks fly... a major development in the oeuvre of both writer and composer, and a remarkable achievement by all those involved. 

★★★★★ 5 stars The Independent: ...Crash Ensemble... conducted by Andre de Ridder, are in the Lyceum pit to release the score in a tumult of wheezy surges (there's an accordion), melodic serial sequences and crashing thumps and carnivalesque effusions. It's a thrilling sound. 

★★★★★ 5 stars the arts desk: André de Ridder conducts Dennehy’s own Crash Ensemble with swagger and enthusiasm, and they respond with a bright, urgent performance... It’s a superb addition to the repertoire, rich, strange, darkly comic and thoroughly beguiling.

★★★★★ 5 stars Whats on Stage: ...the brutality and vigour of Dennehy's score, which is noisy and extraordinary and played brilliantly by the composer's own Crash Ensemble in the Lyceum pit. 

★★★★ 4 stars Guardian: ...searingly powerful new chamber work by two of Ireland’s foremost creative voices, playwright Enda Walsh and composer Donnacha Dennehy... The Last Hotel unleashes a thrilling musical energy. Dennehy’s 12-piece ensemble... 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. Dublin’s Crash Ensemble and conductor André de Ridder deliver it with tremendous guts and agility. 

★★★★ 4 stars The Irish Times: Dennehy’s score and Walsh’s libretto provide a work of wide imagination, unsettling meditation and archly quotidian detail. ... the whinnying strings and jittery rhythms of the excellent Crash Ensemble performers absorb phrases of elevator muzak, RTÉ weather reports, or cede entirely to a queasy disco of Louis Walsh hits. 

★★★★ 4 stars Fest Magazine: Walsh's text is tight and sparse, but without a hint of surrealism...The Crash Ensemble more than match this tightness, keeping Dennehy's little units—spasms, even—of rhythm nailed to the rails.

★★★ 3 stars The Times: Walsh's mordant bleakness has its roots in Beckett and Pinter, while Dennehy's score (stunningly delivered by his own Crash Ensemble under Andrew de Ridder's direction) takes the rambunctious ebullience of Gerald Barry and the raucous thrash minimalism of of Louis Andriessen as its starting points. 

★★★ 3 stars Herald Scotland: Dennehy’s music is powerful stuff, and superbly played by his own Crash Ensemble under Andre de Ridder. Including our own Owen Gunnell on percussion among the dozen virtuosos in the pit, the band are worth the ticket price on their own. Read more

Journal of Music: Their [Crash Ensemble] performance of Andrew Hamilton’s Music for people who like art (2011) was a festival stand-out, a stunning, obsessive and witty work performed with real energy and brilliance – in particular by vocalist Michelle O’Rourke – and it left many other performances seeming grey and aloof in comparison. - Anna Murray

Selected Press Quotes 2014

The Independant: The phenomenal Crash Ensemble includes the fascinating 'XY' by America's Michael Gordon of 'Bang on a Can' fame. With overlapping rhythms, this drum solo becomes more and more frenetic as it progresses and has Crash's ambidextrous Alex Petcu no less frenzied

Golden Plec: Crash Ensemble perform the work with precision and understatement, and the effect is mesmerising. Kate Ellis deserves a special mention for her beautiful sound in the intermezzi. (Hans Abrahamsen’s Schnee)

The Telegraph: The territory being explored in the Barbican’s current Explorations season is the catalogue of Nonesuch Records, the American company founded 50 years ago... The best moments were the ones where that quality of floating outside boundaries allowed something fierce and unfettered to blaze forth. On Sunday the Irish Crash Ensemble appeared with folk singer Iarla Ó Lionáird to perform Grá agus Bás (Love and Death) by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy. The lamenting voice was surrounded by a seething foam of instrumental lines that were avant garde in their strangeness, and yet seemed purely instinctual, nourishing the singer’s voice the way the soft pulp in a fruit nourishes the seed

Selected press quotes 2013

The New York Times: Mr. O Lionaird performed the vibrant work with Crash Ensemble...[his] haunting, plaintive voice soared above chugging Minimalist patterns in the alluring score, woven together with high timbres, microtonal harmonies and complex polyrhythms. It culminated in a raucous, emotional and rhythmically propulsive climax  

The Washington Post: There are more interesting things to do with a voice, in Upshaw's world, than simply emit clear, pure vowels, and in finding partners such as Dennehy [co-artistic director of Crash Ensemble], she's expanding the canon while she does it.

The Irish Times: Massiveness and impact are characteristics that the Crash Ensemble rarely lack. 

Selected press quotes 2012

The Times: The Crash Ensemble’s feverant performances would be a sensation at the Proms. 

Huddersfield Daily Examiner: The much talked about Irish new music group, the Crash Ensemble whose Friday night portrait of the composer Donnacha Dennehy quickly became an early festival talking point

The Guardian: Though his music is driven by explosive and irrepressibly pulsating patterns, its rhythmic profile is curiously elusive: you want to tap your feet, but two feet rarely seem enough.

Galwayartsfestivalblog: It is hard to imagine how a group that has been in place since 1997 can remain so vital, so dedicated to creating new musical horizons and yet, Crash Ensemble do just that. , July 2012

The Irish Times: Whelan’s mischievous Jazzical Cyclebike, written for and performed by members of The Crash Ensemble, was a highlight, with Kate Ellis’s cello and Malachy Robinson’s double bass revelling in the circuitous path of the piece

The Irish Times: The name that came up more than any other as novel and exciting was that of the Crash Ensemble, the new music group that was founded in 1997.

State.ie: It’s difficult to avoid mentioning the Crash Ensemble in any post about Irish contemporary music. It’s a small world, and with ten fingers for each player, that’s a lot of pies to get stuck into. Next month’s Crash gig though is one of the highlights of the contemporary music’s calendar, Free State 7.