Šiznuta klasika + pop + irski folk (izvrstan pjevač - Iarla O’Lionáird).
Reklamiraju ga sloganom "novi Gorecki".
Ljubav i smrt su slanina.
Grá Agus Bás (excerpt)
Donnacha Dennehy's music had already made a potent synthesis of the pulsing energy of minimalism with the harmonic richness of the spectralists before he grafted onto it the traditions of his native Ireland, in particular the unaccompanied songs of sean-nós, with their highly ornamented vocal lines. The result was the remarkable 2007 Grá agus Bás (Love and Death), in which the voice of sean-nós singer Iarla Ó Lionáird was the starting point not only for the vocal lines of Dennehy's work, but for the textures that support and envelop them. It's a piece of startling freshness, with Ó Lionáird's voice at the centre of a seething web of instrumental lines that seems to commute freely between utterly different musical worlds without any trace of dislocation. The WB Yeats settings of That the Night Come, written for soprano Dawn Upshaw and first performed last year, are shaped into a song cycle that may be more conventional than the compelling continuity of Grá agus Bás, but which is exquisitely shaped and perfectly conceived for Upshaw's voice. - Andrew Clements
What's the first thing you think of when you hear the words "Irish music"? A green-beer-sodden rendition of "Danny Boy," or perhaps something by Celtic Woman?
Prepare to have all those preconceptions blown away by this album from the superb 40-year-old Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy. His new album, out May 3, features Grá agus Bás (Love and Death) and the ravishing song cycle That the Night Come, based on the poetry of fellow Irishman W.B. Yeats.
Born in Dublin, Dennehy grew up with traditional Irish music and initially studied at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Illinois. Soon, he gravitated toward electronic music and pursued further studies at IRCAM, the Parisian electronic-music mecca founded by Pierre Boulez. Yet the pieces on this album find Dennehy rooted firmly in his native soil.
In Grá agus Bás, Dennehy weaves traditional Irish music into his work. Written for vocalist Iarla Ó Lionáird and Dublin's Crash Ensemble (a group co-founded by the composer), the piece is full of sounds and textures that are at once haunting and exhilarating. The constant ebb of ancient morphing into present, and vanishing back again, is underscored by superb musicianship, guided by American conductor Alan Pierson.
Nevertheless, the vocalists are front and center here. Ó Lionáird's specialty is sean-nos — singing in the old Irish style with a free sense of rhythm, very little vibrato and beautiful ornamental turns. His sweet tenor ringing above murmuring strings and winds at the beginning, combined with propulsive, primal rhythms at the end, created for me one of the best and most satisfying listening experiences of the year so far.
Dennehy called upon the luminous and fiercely intelligent American soprano Dawn Upshaw as his partner in That the Night Come. Her glistening tone offers a stark contrast to the unnerving text of the first poem, "He wishes his Beloved were Dead." Instruments rise and fall in waves during "The Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water," with Upshaw spinning out long phrases above the players. And there's a strange kind of enraptured beauty in "These Are the Clouds," provided by the song's myriad intervallic leaps.The piece's emotional climax arrives in the deeply beautiful song "Her Anxiety." Upshaw gives the line "All true love must die" a terrible certainty, but Dennehy won't allow that to stand as his final statement. Instead, he leads her through the piece in a way that shows off her tremendous range and creates a haunting portrait of a wild and tormented soul. - Anastasia Tsioulcas
The Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy may not automatically be top of your morning, but he’s getting the kind of launch that most would cry for.
Dennehy has a release next month on Nonesuch. The first track, Love and Death, for singer (Iarla O Lionard) and ensemble, is a meditative setting of old Irish tropes. But the second, That the Night Comes, to poems by W B Yeats, sounds eerily familiar the moment the soloist starts floating over the Crash Ensemble (cond. Alan Pierson).
This will not have been the intention of the composer, who was doubtless double-dotting his darnedest to sound different. But the work is a long, slow, declining cadence and the singer is Dawn Upshaw who – on Nonesuch in 1992 – catapulted an obscure composer from Katowice to international bestsellerdom. Henry Mikolai Gorecki’s third symphony became the first by a living composer to sell a million copies.
Many tried ever after, with predictable futility, to emulate what Pierre Boulez dismissed as ‘holy minimalism’. Dennehy comes closest in atmosphere and vocal phrasing – the leaps he gives Upshaw to sing – to anything I have yet heard. Almost a tribute album.
This is not to suggest imitation, let alone plagiarism – far from it. There are audible affinities with Samuel Barber’s sonorities – Knoxville, especially – and the importation of Irish folk mode is unmistakable. This is a work of many influences, a captivating, contemporary composition.
And that’s before Nonesuch got to work on it. No-one is saying outright that this is the next Gorecki but that suggestion is out on the street and Dennehy’s residency at Carnegie Hall this month with Ms Upshaw (see press release below) will go further to planting the Gorecki link in the public mind.
It’s an astonishing launch for a new composer and I wish him well with it. Now watch those charts. -
Donnacha Dennehy: Crashing Through Cultures
by Jeff LundenIreland has a strong tradition of folk music and poetry that's familiar to many Americans. But in the hands of Dublin-born composer Donnacha Dennehy, it's transformed into something completely different.
The first piece on Dennehy's new CD — out Tuesday — is called Grá agus Bás, which means "love and death" in Gaelic. The singer's plaintive cries sound very much like phrases from Irish folk music, while the accompaniment features a kind of pulsating minimalist shimmer, played by a classical music group called Crash Ensemble, co-founded by Dennehy.
"I need a kind of vehicle for my music and I need an ensemble that can do it, people I can trust," Dennehy says of his musicians. "I don't want to be this kind of old-fashioned composer waiting around for commissions for instrumentations that don't really trigger something in me. I was very lucky, though, because the [Crash] group is great. There's a great collaborative spirit among them. It feels like a band. I can ring them up and they'll come 'round to my house, even. We can record things to see — in the middle of a composition — how it works. It's like a lab, you know? It's like Haydn having his orchestra at Esterhazy. It's really helpful."
Classical Meets The Sounds Of Pop
Dennehy adds that Crash's mix of traditional classical instruments and such pop-geared sounds as electric guitar and drum kit are essential to his artistic ideas.
"The instrumentation's really important in it, actually, because you have that kind of full-ensemble thing, so you can get almost a quasi-orchestral sound out of them," he says. "And then it's got this edge from having the electric guitar and a percussion player who can play kick drum and snare, just as easily as he can play any of the tuned percussion."
It's the crashing of old and new that Dennehy wants to explore. Although he grew up in urban Dublin, both his parents came from County Kerry, and every summer he'd go there and hear sean nós music — Irish folk music in the old style.
"There'd be long all-night sessions in my grandmother's house with singing and poetry, and people remembering 30-stanza poems," the composer says. "These would go right through the night. As children, we would stay up, even through these sessions." As a result, he says, many locals can sing in the old style — and he was interested in it from his youth, as well.
Dennehy wanted to incorporate some of that old style in his new work, so he got in touch with an expert: Iarla Ó Lionárd, who, as the composer explains, "is probably one of the best exponents of that style today."
The two met several times, and Dennehy had Ó Lionárd sing his entire repertoire. Then the composer chose two songs, which he sliced, diced and otherwise deconstructed for Grá agus Bás.
"They were pregnant with possibility," Dennehy says. "So I made use of little phrases, little patterns from the songs, that then went into the patterns in the instruments. Little ornamentation became little minimalist patterns in the instrumentation. And the words are entirely taken from these two songs. So it's like they're embedded in the DNA, but they're kind of exploded."
Ireland's Pros And Cons
That Irish DNA allows for some other artistic freedoms, Dennehy says.
"Living in Ireland is kind of a drawback, in many ways," he says, "because Ireland is on the periphery of Europe; we don't have any of the tradition of supporting musical culture in the way that they do in someplace like Holland, let's say, or Germany. And the financial collapse is a bit of a drawback at the moment."
However, being Irish also affords great liberty, Dennehy says.
"It's a huge freedom, because we're making it up as we go along," the composer says. "And we have our own traditional music culture, which is extremely strong, and then, in terms of other global trends, we are just as open to America as we are to what's happening in Europe. The further you go into Europe, they're more closed off to that. So there's a real kind of open-mindedness in Ireland."
A Collaboration Is Born
When Bob Hurwitz, president of Nonesuch Records, played Grá agus Bás for American soprano Dawn Upshaw, she immediately asked Hurwitz to introduce her to Dennehy. A new collaboration was born.
"It was one of the first times that I kind of got together with a composer without knowing exactly what might come out of the conversation or what kind of project it would be," Upshaw says, "and everything has felt very easy and natural and warm."
Dennehy created a song cycle for Upshaw: Called That the Night Come, it's composed of six settings of poetry by the Irish national treasure William Butler Yeats. The composer says he read every word Yeats wrote before he chose the six poems — all about love and death — that make up the cycle.
"These poems are so rich, with lots of hidden meanings," he says, "and you could take a meaning in a different way. That's classically Irish, you know? When we say something, it has five possible meanings, and our conversations are constructed on those grounds."
The composer says that Yeats' work has had particular resonance for him.
"I would consider myself a very kind of optimistic person," Dennehy says, "but, you know, life is life and it's a peculiar situation, you know? We all have it; there's the struggle for meaning, there's the struggle for kind of a love that has a sustainability and then, there is that harsh reality of death. And no matter how sunny and optimistic we all are, these are facts that are there in the background. I suppose Yeats really... he beautifully put some of these issues into words."
A Voice In Mind
Dennehy says he crafted the Yeats songs with Upshaw's voice in mind — utilizing not just her upper register, but her lower register, as well.
"There's this kind of deep intensity that Dawn has now that people don't automatically associate with her," Dennehy says. "They associate just the pure, floating tone. But there's a lot of complexity in Dawn, and I really wanted to use all that."
In the title song of the cycle, "That the Night Come," the intensity of both the composer and the singer comes to a climax, Upshaw says.
"I hear in his music the struggle, the sense of needing to find release," she says. "You hear in the polyrhythms and all of the layering and this feeling of needing to break free of something."
5 questions to Donnacha Dennehy (composer, artistic director of Crash Ensemble)
Until I heard Alarm Will Sound perform scenes from The Hunger, your work-in-progress about the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1852, my idea of traditional Irish music was the Clancy Brothers! The sean-nós (“old style”) recordings you incorporate are at once uplifting and haunting, but Rachel Calloway’s rendition of Annals of the Famine had me a little choked up. How did you go about setting such an unusual and emotion-laden source of text?The Hunger will ultimately be an evening-length piece concerning itself with the topic of the Great Famine in Ireland in the 19th century. I’m not interested in this story for some nationalist reason, but because it is a profound and human focus for looking at the question of laissez faire economics (the free market) versus the responsibility of governance. That was the ideological battle at the heart of government in London (at that time Ireland was part of the British Empire, then the wealthiest entity in the world, possessing 40% of the world’s wealth). The famine was definitely an avoidable disaster. The free market does not always behave morally, as we know. And this is a kind of catastrophic instance of the impact of not interfering with its workings until too late. The second part of the piece will involve interviews with economists (in a great kind of babble of verbal sound) which will be interleaved with the more personal voices of Asenath Nicholson’s first-hand accounts and that of sean-nós song which basically is a signifier of the sufferer in this context. I concentrate on this story because it irrevocably changed Ireland, and it is something I know on an emotional level. I wanted to also explore it on an intellectual and artistic level.
Grá agus Bás (Love and Death) will be performed this week at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. I imagine you following in the footsteps of past composer/ethnomusicologists such as Bartók, who sought to incorporate Magyar folk elements into notated classical music while keeping it distinct from the dominant German school. Do you see yourself in a similar role, trying to adapt a traditional Irish form to “high art,” thus distinguishing your work from American post-minimalism?There are definite post-minimalist tendencies in my work. I am not worried about that at all, and the desire to incorporate sean-nós elements within my music is not some conscious attempt to distinguish me from my American friends. There are other things that I do such as a concentration in using the overtone series in my harmonies/textures, an elastic treatment of harmonic rhythm where pairs contract and expand against each other etc. which keep my music fresh enough for me without my feeling a kind of compulsion to incorporate Irish elements. But in some works I do feel compelled to use this material as a source. I am not trying to proselytize or anything. It just resonates for me and suggests so many possibilities when I’m working, not only emotionally and sonically, but also on a structural level. I really am using them for my own ends, and I invest these sources with all sorts of properties that are only implicit in them initially. It’s a kind of inter-cultural collision within my own being. I was raised in a very urban environment in Dublin, very much part of a kind of Anglo-American popular culture. Yet I also felt different from that, and I suppose that I want my music to be honest to who I am.
Harmonics and other spectral effects abound in Grá agus Bás. Are any of these elements left to the discretion of the performers? Do these phenomena point to aspects of this world, or do they seek to transcend it?In a way I touched upon this in my answer to the last question. I am endlessly fascinated with the construction of harmonies using overtones, or taken from ideas about the overtone series. Almost all of these overtone-derived elements are explicitly notated. For Grá agus Bás, I analysed loads of unaccompanied sean nós songs (sung for me by Iarla O’Lionáird) with a very precise pitch-detection software called Melodyne, which could show me all the microtonal variations. Most of these could very easily be construed within a spectral context and that became a meeting point for the way the solo voice interacted with the harmony/timbre of the instrumental writing.
I think that all art is about transcending the limits of the world, especially the limit imposed upon us by death.
Iarla O’Lionáird’s voice has a texture that resonates remarkably well among strings and even electronics. Certain phrases of his even reminded me of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. What did you learn from him about the import and scope of sean-nós songs?I learned an awful lot from Iarla. He was incredibly generous with his time and talent. My interaction with him has left an indelible mark on my voice as a composer. Sean-nós probably sounds much more “foreign” to American ears than what would generally be known as Irish music (our dance music and ballads). Some scholars even suggest strong North African influences on Irish sean nós (argued showing evidence from old trade routes). Hence the possibility of your making a connection with Sufi music. I love Nusrat Fatah Ali Khan by the way. So that may also play a role on some unconscious level!
That the Night Come is a lush collection of settings of Yeats poems, sung with ethereal grace by Dawn Upshaw. What made you decide upon a female voice for his texts? Are you perhaps finally reconciling him with Maud Gonne?!Ha! Someone knows their Yeats! Dawn had been put in touch with me by Bob Hurwitz (of Nonesuch). He played her Grá agus Bás and she became interested in my music. So we decided to do something together. I was initially debating using Irish language poems but then became more and more convinced that I wanted to do something with Yeats. I had set Yeats before, and always with female voices. I really don’t know the reason why. Yeats was profoundly influenced and shaped by the women he knew in his life, from Maud Gonne to Lady Gregory (with whom he founded the Abbey Theatre) to Georgina his wife (with whom he produced books and books of automatic writing). So maybe I sensed a very strong female presence in his poems or something. Who knows? I don’t. But Dawn is stunning in her interpretation of these texts. - Rob Wendt
Composer's notes: A Q-and-A with Donnacha Dennehy
Mizzou New Music Summer Festival begins. As detailed in yesterday's Ovation cover, the festival is a week-long glimpse at the strains of new music that are constantly being sounded both here in the United States and abroad. Composers, both established and emerging, will engage in an environment of mutuality and music-making. And, if that weren't enough, they will hear their works performed by a leading light in the new music world, the chamber group Alarm Will Sound.
As one of this year's two guest composers, Irish songsmith Donnacha Dennehy will seek to, in some way, bring words of encouragement and exhortations to grow as he interacts with his rising colleagues. They would do well to listen — Dennehy is barely into his 40s but has already received commissions from the likes of Dawn Upshaw, the Kronos Quartet and the Bang On A Can All-Stars. He has taught at Trinity College in Dublin and will bring his knowledge to the lecture halls and studios of Princeton University this year. Dennehy's most recent album, "Grá Agus Bás (Love and Death)," was named one of 2011's 50 best albums — in any genre — by NPR, putting him in proximity to the likes of Adele, Beyonce, Bon Iver, Colin Stetson, Tom Waits and Sonny Rollins.
In an email exchange, Dennehy reminisced about his first compositions, described his newest works and explained why money and passion are both necessary artistic devices.
Tribune: This might seem a silly question, but what are your first memories of composing music? What were those first compositions like? Did they contain anything that hinted at your musical trajectory or that you could point to today as containing consistent musical touchstones?
Dennehy: I started composing instantly when I started learning music at 9. My father was a writer of radio plays, so it seemed natural for me to go into my room and write down my ideas! I used to write these massive "symphonies" (as I called them) for recorder, tin whistle and flute, which were the instruments that I played, graduating to piano later. Often I would record extended improvisations with a hand-held tape recorder and then transcribe them in modified form into notation afterwards. I found the whole thing fascinating.
Tribune: At the Mizzou festival, Alarm Will Sound will debut the first portion of "The Hunger," described as a larger work in-progress. What will listeners hear? What is the scope of that work and what pieces remain to be complete? What do you know of the soprano who will be singing it — Anne-Carolyn Bird? What can you say about her voice as an instrument?
Dennehy: Yes, it's part of what will be a large music theater piece about the Great Irish Famine of the 19th century, when a million people died and another million emigrated to America. Much more emigration was to follow in the years after. The Irish population before the famine was over 8 million. Thirty to 40 years later it was as low as 2 million. The work is actually being conceived for Dawn Upshaw and Alarm Will Sound, but Dawn was unavailable for this performance. Alarm Will Sound suggested a list of other singers. Each one was really good, but I was very attracted to Anne-Carolyn Bird's voice, which I also thought would be really suitable for this material. She really has something. I've also heard that she is a very committed performer, and that's important to me.
Tribune: Tell me a bit about how you view commissioned works, such as that one. How much do you write to the strengths of the ensemble or performer? How much do you seek to immerse them into your own musical world and artistic priorities?
Dennehy: I just do what I do, but of course the make-up of the ensemble influences it. I'm greatly looking forward to working with Alarm Will Sound.
Tribune: Your most recent recording was released via Nonesuch. That label has quite a reputation for quality and variety. What has your experience been there? What sorts of freedoms has that partnership afforded you? How much influence does a label have over an artist of your focus and reputation?
Dennehy: I had a great experience with Nonesuch. It is an incredible label, and it meant an awful lot to me that they wished to release a portrait disc of my work.
Tribune: At MU, you'll be working with emerging composers. First off, what does a composer of your experience listen for when hearing the nascent works of others? As you seek to offer guidance and instruction, are there certain universal questions or ideas that you typically bring to bear in such settings? Or, do you let the circumstances in each individual situation dictate your advice?
Dennehy: I look for something fresh above all. Also, you can hear the commitment of the composer in the music. I will be a new set of ears for them. I have a feeling for structure no matter what the style of the composer, so I can help them with making the most of their material, I hope!
Tribune: One of the reasons this festival is even happening is the efforts of some patrons who really wish to see our city become a haven or incubator for new music. Were you to advise music educators and music lovers in Columbia, what sort of creative or financial conditions would you tell them are necessary for good new music to be born and to thrive?
Dennehy: Money and passion are the vital supports. In some places in Europe, you just have money alone (in the form of state support) and that's not enough. But nor is passion alone — it will burn out if not supported. - www.columbiatribune.com/
Donnacha Dennehy: Grá Agus Bás (Nonesuch Records)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***** Guardian
Editor's Choice, Gramophone, August 2011
NPR's Top 50 Albums of 2011
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Donnacha Dennehy: Elastic Harmonic (NMC)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.
Link to the following online reviews from allmusic.com, JMI, Paul Griffiths, International Record Review (Peter Quinn)
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Stainless Staining (Cantaloupe)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
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Fidelio Trio: Bulb (NMC)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
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Isabelle O'Connell: Reservoir (Diatribe)Isabelle O'Connell's debut CD of contemporary music from Ireland. Features the first recording of Reservoir for solo piano (commissioned and performed by Isabelle O'Connell).Online reviews at Sequenza 21 and by Daniel Stephen Johnson at the New Haven Advocate.
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Smith Quartet: Dance (Signum)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 Signum Records on 31 January 2011.
"Donnacha Dennehy's infectious "STAMP" is a caffeinated riff on a 14th-century Saltarello." - Independent on Sunday (UK)
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Electra: Able To BeContains 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 Attaca Records in January 2008.
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William Dowdall: Works for Solo FluteThis Celestial Recordings CD from the flautist William Dowdall features the first recording of FAT for flute and tape (commissioned and performed by William Dowdall). Online review at the Irish Times.
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Susanna Borsch: Off-LimitsContains the premiere recording of BRAT (2000/5) along with works by Ned McGowan, Gijs Levelt and others. Played by the Dutch/German recorder virtuoso, Susanna Borsch.
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The NMC SongbookContains 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
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Irish Contemporary Organ Music (Played by David Adams)Contains the premiere recordings of Work for Organ (1992) and Mad,Avid,Sad (2000). Also includes works by Gerald Barry, Kevin Volans, Buckley, Deane, Godfrey, O'Connell and MacLachlan.
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One Minute MoreContains the premiere recording (by Guy Livingston) of the very short North Circular (1') with a film by Nelleke Koop.
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By The New TimeBy 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.
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Coloring Outside The LinesThese 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.
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Contemporary Music from Ireland, Volume FiveIncludes a recording of 'To Herbert Brun Part IV' played by the Crash Ensemble.
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Knock on Wood - Tatiana KolevaVirtuoso 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.
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New Works for Percussion - Slagwerkgroep Den HaagThe 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.