The Crash Ensemble has already cemented its place at the center of Irish contemporary music in the early 21st century. Ghosts simply confirms the band’s importance. The playing is confident and incisive – as it would have to be to negotiate these four works, each of which provides both rhythmic and textural challenges. Nico Muhly’s “Drones, Variations, Ornaments” unfolds gradually, accumulating restless energy until it sails along on the kinetic rhythms of American postminimalism. A striking coda reveals the chamber orchestra lurking beneath the brash new music ensemble.
Icelandic composer/producer Valgeir Sigurðsson also offers two ways of looking at the ensemble. The title track, Ghosts, features a dark, moody texture that reflects Sigurðsson’s interest in electroacoustic sounds. Past Tundra is such a marvel of steady, pulsing, but cleverly syncopated rhythm that it may be easy to miss the poignant harmonies that characterize most of the work until its buoyant finale.
Unsurprisingly, Donnacha Dennehy, a co-founder of the ensemble, revels in the “classic” Crash sound in his piece As An Nos, with its layering of rhythmic cells, its instruments echoing or moving in hocket with each other, and its fabric of tightly woven musical threads. Dennehy offers a kaleidoscopic range of instrumental colors from one moment to the next in the work’s tremulous middle section, but the piece gradually asserts itself and becomes an insistent, chattering conversation of rhythms. As An Nos (and the record as a whole) presents a real challenge to both band and conductor, but in the best “never let them see you sweat” tradition, Crash pull it off with a bravura finish.
released June 23, 2017
Crash Ensemble are
Violin - Anna Cashell
Viola - Lisa Dowdall
Cello - Kate Ellis
Bass - Malachy Robinson
Flute - Susan Doyle
Clarinet - Deirdre O’Leary
Trombone - Roddy O’Keeffe
Percussion - Owen Gunnell
Electric Guitar - John Godfrey
Piano - Andrew Zolinsky
Conductor: Alan Pierson
CEO - Neva Elliott
Concerts Manager - Jonathan Pearson
Alan Kelly - Recording Engineer
Rachel Conlon - Assistant Recording Engineer
Recorded at Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin.
Mixed & Mastered by Valgeir Sigurðsson at Greenhouse Studios, Reykjavik
Album portrait: Ros Kavanagh
Artwork: Chris Bigg
This a Bedroom Community Record
*Presented with funding from the Arts Council Music Recording Scheme, managed by Music Network.