Release date: June 28, 2019. New Amsterdam Records will release Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy’s album Surface Tension / Disposable Dissonance on 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.
Surface Tension / Disposable Dissonance opens with“Surface Tension”, which was inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s historic percussion collection. Dennehy explains, “I was inspired by the way various indigenous drums (such as the Irish bodhrán or Middle Eastern frame drums like the Turkish Tar) play with the tension of the skin in order to bend the pitch and produce something almost approaching melody, and sought a way of making so-called un-pitched drums ‘sing’ in their own way in this piece.” He continues,” I was particularly interested in creating a kind of mobile pitch-space that shifted in and out of various overtone-based tonalities.”
Release date: 15 March 2019. 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.
Release date: 11 August 2017. 38 minute piece (divided into 3 continuous sections) for solo viola, 3 "ghost" violas and 11 microtonally tuned viols. Written especially for Nadia Sirota and Liam Byrne, who recorded it at Greenhouse Studios in Reykjavik.
"I am obsessed with luminosity in music”, says Dennehy on the album's website. “It influences most of my decisions: about harmony and timbre, process and even form.” This obsession, one that drove Sirota to originally commission the piece, has resulted in the extreme and innovative utilisation of overtones in Tessellatum, and is what gives the piece its singular, incandescent quality. It might urge us to at least entertain the idea of listening to musical sound in an entirely different way", Aidan Daly, The Line of the Best Fit, 8 August 2017 (Album of the week)
"On this luminous 38-minute work by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, Sirota leads a viola quartet of herself, quadruple-tracked, while Liam Byrne layers 11 tracks of viola de gamba. Together they generate dense harmonic clouds that move around birdlike melodic phrases, which by turn crisscross, then flock to formation. The piece is best experienced as soundtrack to Steven Merten's psychedelic companion film, though it's plenty consciousness-altering on its own.", Will Hermes, Rolling Stone, 11 August 2017.
Debut release of Donnacha Dennehy's music on Nonesuch Records. Release date: 3 May 2011. Tracks are Grá Agus Bás and That The Night Come. Features Dawn Upshaw, Iarla O'Lionáird and Crash Ensemble (conducted by Alan Pierson).
"Remarkable", "startling freshness" 5***** Andrew Clements, The Guardian
The first full-length portrait CD of Donnacha Dennehy's music. Released by NMC in London in June 2007. Tracks include Elastic Harmonic, Streetwalker, Junk Box Fraud, PADDY, pAt and Glamour Sleeper. Performers include Crash Ensemble, Joanna MacGregor, Darragh Morgan, National Symphony Orchestra, Tatiana Koleva, and Ensemble Intégrales.
The third in Lisa Moore's series of EPs for Cantaloupe, Stainless Staining is devoted to the piano music of Donnacha Dennehy. Consists of the two pieces, Stainless Staining and Reservoir. Release date: July 2012.
From the November 2012 American Edition of Gramophone: "Dennehy creates sonorities at once glistening and hypnotic...Every moment is suffused with delicate or dramatic propulsion... Lisa Moore, founding pianist of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, plays both works with mesmerising command of Dennehy's simmering soundscapes and finely graded dynamic palette". Donald Rosenberg
Contains the premiere recording of The Weather of it (2016) in a disc of string quartets performed by the Doric Quartet, the Jack Quartet, and the Carducci Quartet. Other composers featured are Simon Holt and Anthony Gilbert Released by NMC Records in May 2017.
"Change of a more programmatic nature is portrayed in Donnacha Dennehyʼs excellentThe weather of it. Composed in a continuous musical stream lasting almost 20 minutes and performed with energy and vitality by the Doric Quartet, acoustically aerodynamic figures and patterns glide along until blown off course by sudden changes in direction or temperature. Shifts occur through rapid changes in register and articulation, with Dennehy imaginatively exploiting the quartetʼs full range and drawing on harmonics, overtones and microtones." Pwyll ap Siôn, Gramophone Magazine, September 2017 issue. Review in the Guardian, May 2017.
Contains the premiere recording of Bulb(2006) in a disc of performances by the Fidelio Trio along with works by Kevin Volans, Ed Bennett and Deirdre Gribbin. Released by NMC Records in February 2008. Online review of Bulb by Stephen Graham at musicalcriticism.com
Contains the premiere recording of Stamp (2008) along with works by John Adams, Tan Dun, Michael Nyman, Joe Cutler and others. Played by the UK-based Smith Quartet. Released by SignumRecords on 31 January 2011.
"Donnacha Dennehy's infectious "STAMP" is a caffeinated riff on a 14th-century Saltarello." - Independent on Sunday (UK)
Isabelle O'Connell's debut CD of contemporary music from Ireland. Features the first recording of Reservoirfor solo piano (commissioned and performed by Isabelle O'Connell).Online reviews at Sequenza 21 and by Daniel Stephen Johnson at the New Haven Advocate.
Contains the premiere recording of The Weathering (2004) along with works by Louis Andriessen, Jacob Ter Veldhuis and others. Played by the Amsterdam-based Electra group. Released by AttacaRecords in January 2008.
Contains the premiere recording of my spectral setting of Aisling Gheal for cello and electronics alongside works by Linda Buckley, Enda Bates, Laura Sheeran and Niall Vallely. Played by the wonderful cellist, Kate Ellis. Released 15 August 2014.
Contains the premiere recording of Swift's Epitaph (2008) for countertenor (Andrew Watts) and percussion (Owen Gunnell). Along with about 90 other compositions! Online reviews from the Guardian, musicalcriticism.com
"...Donnacha Dennehy’s version of ‘Swift’s Epitaph’ for counter-tenor (Andrew Watts) and percussion (Owen Gunnell), where the emphatic and rhythmically alert opening for drum and vibes evaporates into trickling glockenspiel and then almost works its way back beneath the voice’s strange chant, an altogether magical piece."Paul Griffiths
Contains the premiere recording (by Guy Livingston) of the very short North Circular (1') with a film by Nelleke Koop.
By The New Time
By the new time is a compilation of Irish electro-acoustic music. It contains the premiere recording of pAt for piano and tape, played by the well-known British pianist Joanna MacGregor. Also includes pieces by Michael Alcorn, Roger Doyle, Judith Ring, Jurgen Simpson and others.
These composers range from San Francisco to Dublin. Includes first recordings of Begobs II and IV for solo piano. Also includes works by James Bohn, Linda Antas and Camille Goudeseune.
Contemporary Music from Ireland, Volume Five
Includes a recording of 'To Herbert Brun Part IV' played by the Crash Ensemble.
Knock on Wood - Tatiana Koleva
Virtuoso Bulgarian percussionist, Tatiana Koleva, performs a dynamic selection of new works for percussion, including Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy’s ‘Paddy’. The CD also includes compositions by Louis Andriessen, Cheil Meijering and Roderik de Man among others.
The six members of Slagwerkgroep Den Haag (Percussion Group of The Hague) have 600 instruments and a repertoire that encompasses the entire literature of western percussion music. The five very diverse and distinctive works on this CD, among them Donnacha Dennehy’s ‘Composition for Percussion, Loops, Blips and Flesh’, were specially commissioned for the group in 2002-03.