Donnacha Dennehy: Grá agus Bás

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, born in Dublin in 1970, has developed a distinctive style that merges sophisticated contemporary techniques and a spirited post-minimalist aesthetic with a gritty urban energy in works like his violin concerto "Elastic Harmonic" and in "Junk Box Fraud," for chamber ensemble. In his 25-minute "Grá agus Bás" Love and Death, written in 2007, he brings another element to his work; he directly addresses his heritage in Irish folk music, particularly the sean-nós tradition of unaccompanied, elaborately ornamented song. Working with sean-nós master singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, Dennehy selected two songs that form the basis of his new work, in which ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, born in Dublin in 1970, has developed a distinctive style that merges sophisticated contemporary techniques and a spirited post-minimalist aesthetic with a gritty urban energy in works like his violin concerto "Elastic Harmonic" and in "Junk Box Fraud," for chamber ensemble. In his 25-minute "Grá agus Bás" Love and Death, written in 2007, he brings another element to his work; he directly addresses his heritage in Irish folk music, particularly the sean-nós tradition of unaccompanied, elaborately ornamented song. Working with sean-nós master singer Iarla Ó Lionáird, Dennehy selected two songs that form the basis of his new work, in which the source material is sometimes easily audible and sometimes transformed into something entirely new. "Grá agus Bás" doesn't sound like an awkward hybrid, though; Dennehy beautifully integrates its disparate elements to create a piece that is immediately appealing and viscerally compelling. He exploits the unique qualities of Lionáird's remarkable voice in a way that sounds both timeless and thoroughly modern. Alan Pierson leads Crash Ensemble, which Dennehy had a key role in founding in 1997, in a virtuoso performance, daunting in its rhythmic complexity and in the use of both equal and just tuning systems. In contrast to the feral impetuosity of "Grá agus Bás," "That the Night Come," a cycle of six songs for soprano and chamber ensemble based on the poetry of Yeats, is more conventional but it reveals no less originality and inventiveness. Written at the request of Dawn Upshaw, who sings it here, the music demonstrates Dennehy's unerring gift for text setting that, though often unpredictable, is natural-sounding, lyrical, and elegant. The emotionally varied songs are immensely satisfying in their imaginative illumination of the poems. They are wonderfully well-suited to Upshaw's voice, and she sings with intensity, luxuriant warmth, complete ease, and nuanced musicality. The album is engineered with exemplary attentiveness to the music's exotic textures, and the sound is clean, full, and natural. Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/3/2011
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • UPC: 075597977271
  • Catalog Number: 527063
  • Sales rank: 131,039

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Grá agus Bás, for singer and ensemble - Crash Ensemble (24:31)
  2. 2 He wishes his Beloved were Dead - Crash Ensemble (4:06)
  3. 3 The Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water - Crash Ensemble (3:18)
  4. 4 The White Birds - Crash Ensemble (8:38)
  5. 5 These are the Clouds - Crash Ensemble (3:31)
  6. 6 Her Anxiety - Crash Ensemble (5:45)
  7. 7 That the Night Come - Crash Ensemble (9:12)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Iarla Ó Lionáird Primary Artist, Vocals
Dawn Upshaw Soprano (Vocal)
Alan Pierson Conductor
Crash Ensemble Ensemble
Technical Credits
Robert Hurwitz Executive Producer
Robert C. Ludwig Mastering
Martin Sauer Producer
Tobias Lehmann Engineering
William Butler Yeats Text
Donnacha Dennehy Composer, Artistic Director
Bob Gilmore Liner Notes
Frances Mitchell Management
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