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Grá agus Bás

Donnacha Dennehy Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Price: $15.13 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 7 Songs, 1 Digital Booklet, 2011 $9.49  
Audio CD, 2011 $15.13  

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 3, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B004N1HCMQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,435 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Grá agus Bás, for singer and ensemble
2. He wishes his Beloved were Dead
3. The Old Men Admiring Themselves in the Water
4. The White Birds
5. These are the Clouds
6. Her Anxiety
7. That the Night Come

Editorial Reviews

Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, whom, the New Yorker has called "a star of Dublin's active new music scene," makes his Nonesuch debut with Gra Agus Bas. This ambitious set features a pair of dramatic pieces written for two very different but equally extraordinary voices-former Afro-Celt Sound system vocalist Iarla O'Lionaird and American soprano, and Nonesuch label-mate, Dawn Upshaw. Often described as a post-minimalist, Dennehy, says British music magazine The Wire, "has a sound world all his own." Here he uses elements of Irish traditional culture as a springboard to create work with no visible roots-a borderless music that is mysterious and elegiac, as deeply moving as it is utterly transfixing.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible New Work by Donnacha Dennehy May 17, 2011
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
It's not often these days that I am grabbed immediately by modern classical works. But Donnacha Dennehy's latest release, Grá agus Bás, stands as a firm exception. Of course, there are plenty of pieces I enjoy from an intellectual standpoint, like Steve Reich's Four Organs. I find that as the piece evolves, so does my understanding of it. But unlike Dennehy's work, there isn't anything about it that really strikes me in the first few seconds.

Dennehy's titular piece is a twenty-five minute odyssey that grabs the listener and maintains that grip right to the end. Its sonic landscapes are a barren depiction of Dennehy's native Ireland, and they are reminiscent of the spectral works of Murail and Grisey particularly in orchestration. The piece opens with Irish folk singer Iarla Ó Lionáird and develops slowly but gorgeously. While the presence of minimalist traditions is undeniable, so is Dennehy's transcendence of the genre's limitations. The strings provide a rippling sound which allows Ó Lionáird's voice, punctuated by the winds, percussion, and the perhaps unexpected electric guitar, to soar.

I know little about the traditional Irish music "sean-nós" to which Dennehy attributes his inspiration for his piece. Still, the album's liner notes explain how he drew lines from two sean-nós and manipulated them to form the text for Ó Lionáird. There are more hints of spectral music here as he explains how he used pitch-analysis software to analyze the singer's voice and derive melodic material from the overtone series of the bass.

Also included on the new release is a recording of That the Night Come, a more recent song cycle based on W.B. Yeats' poems.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Album of Discoveries October 27, 2011
Format:Audio CD
Though everyone knows the name and reputation of the brilliant soprano Dawn Upshaw and may approach this album because she is singing a work written for her, it is unlikely that as many have heard of or are aware of the immensely interesting Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy. Born in Dublin in 1970 he studied Music at Trinity College, Dublin and later pursued graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Upon returning to Dublin he founded the Crash Ensemble in 1997, an ensemble of young players performing minimalist music and pieces incorporating electronics and multimedia. Of note, the Crash Ensemble is composed of piano/ keyboards, flute, cello, guitar, viola, percussion, trombone, clarinet, double bass, and violin and in addition to works by Dennehy has performed works by the most well known minimalists - Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Louis Andriessen, Gavin Bryars, and Terry Riley. The sounds Dennehy creates are a blend of Irish folk tunes enhanced by energetic rhythms, hard-edged sounds (both acoustic and electronic) and an infectious sense of melody.

The major work (in length) on this album is the Grá agus Bás (meaning "love and death" in Gaelic). Using a vocalist - this time the Irish singer Iarla Ó Lionáird - combined with the Crash Ensemble, the singer's plaintive cries sound very much like phrases from Irish folk music, while the accompaniment features a kind of pulsating minimalist shimmer. Dennehy has remarked 'I need a kind of vehicle for my music and I need an ensemble that can do it, people I can trust. 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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is simply one of the most interesting and engaging discs I have bought in a long time. While you can hear the influences of quite a few streams in current contemporary (classical) music, the music is never derivative. Dennehy has absorbed them and made them his own. The Irish singer on the title track is phenomenal, and the quality of his voice gives the whole piece an unworldly (and slightly cross over) feel. Dawn Upshaw is wonderful as always, and you can't go wrong with Yeats. This is music that will grab your attention from the opening bars, hold it throughout and then stay with you afterwards. In a good way.
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1 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Celtic Music June 16, 2011
By gammao
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I bought this recording because it had a good review in the newspaper and I generally enjoy Celtic music. However this recording strident and jarring, not at all pleasant.
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