Reviews

Selected Press Quotes 2016

★★★★★ 5 stars The Irish Times

Album: Barry meets Beethoven

Artists: Chamber Choir of Ireland, Crash Ensemble, Paul Hillier, Stephen Richardson, Gerald Barry

...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.

★★★★ 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...

The Independent: ...and it is that which emerges from Invitation to a Journey, in which her life and work are only lightly touched upon, but Gavin Kostick's script, Deirdre Gribbin's exquisite score performed by the Crash Ensemble, and David Bolger's impassioned, slightly retro choreography come together to create an image as inspiring as it is oddly tranquil….

★★★ 3 stars The Sunday Business Post

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

Golden Plec: Closing out the marathon afternoon, Linda Buckley’s Torann sees Crash Ensemble bring to lifeevocative, almost discordant soundscapes; each time the tension builds, it finds release in warm, richly textured resolutions. Combined with washes of processed sounds, the ultimate result is a work that is a hauntingly effective work.

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 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 frenziedPat OKelly. The Independent. 11 March 2014

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. [Review Hans Abrahamsen’s Schnee] A Brooks. Golden Plec. 13 March 2014

The Crash Ensemble were brilliant in their performance of Hans Abrahamsen’s Schnee, which incidentally also received its Chicago premiere on the following day (a further testament to Dennehy’s erudition of modern-day masterworks). Dr. Nathanael May, Association of Irish Composers. March 2014. 

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 seedIvan Hewett, The Telegraph (UK) 21 May 2014

Walking back into the Monday morning sunlight reflecting off the lake outside the Ardhowen Theatre, it’s the music that sticks in the mind, colouring the already fading memory of what we’ve just seen and heard. ...Words and Music, the radio play written by Beckett in collaboration with Morton Feldman. Over forty minutes, an old man named Croak mediates between Joe, who is words, and Bob, who is music. Bob, in this particular case, is the Crash Ensemble, probably Ireland’s foremost contemporary music collectiveIan Malene , The Quietus . August 17th, 2014

That sense of something beyond what we see and hear, not enlarged on, is at the core of Beckett's writing. Every presence seems shadowed by an absence. This is acutely conveyed in Netia Jones's stage world premiere of his 1961 radio play Words and Music, in which Words (Adrian Dunbar) and Music (the Crash Ensemble) compete to communicate. ... Voices and instruments pattern – antagonistically, tentatively, melodically, with pizzicato fizz, developing fragile, shifting interdependencies within solitude. It feels like a form of sonic grattage – where what is being layered and scraped is a life trying to recover coherence. Or, as Feldman pithily puts it: "There was a situation where two people were having some problems... and music essentially had to bend. Clare Brennan, The guardian (UK). Sunday 10 August 2014

Selected press quotes 2013

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 New York Times, May 17th 2013  

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 Washington Post, May 14th 2013:

Massiveness and impact are characteristics that the Crash Ensemble rarely lack. The Irish Times, Tues 5 March 2013

Selected press quotes 2012

The Crash Ensemble’s feverant performances would be a sensation at the Proms. The Times, Tues 20 Nov 2012

… 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 pointHuddersfield Daily Examiner, 19 Nov 2012

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 enoughThe Guardian, Tues 20, Nov 2012

Two moments still resonate: the whispered secret at the close of composer Claudia Molitor's Remember Me, and the last exultant bang and whoop of Crash Ensemble's performance of Andrew Hamilton's music for people who like art. The Independent, Sunday 25 November 2012  The Contemporary Music Centre, 30 November 2012,

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. Galwayartsfestivalblog, July 2012

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 pieceThe Irish Times, May 22, 2012

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.
The Irish Times, April 11, 2012

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. State.ie, 26 March 2012