Ensemble ICC

NCH Kevin Barry Room

NCH Kevin Barry Room

There was a rather retro feel to this programme by Ensemble ICC. The evening concentrated on works for violin (Cora Venus Lunny, not always secure in intonation) and cello (Kate Ellis, more consistent in approach and delivery). And the backward glances were to be felt in the pieces themselves, in aspects of the playing, and also in the evening’s single work which dispensed with conventional instruments entirely.

It's half a century since the American experimentalist La Monte Young, best-known for his very long drone pieces, gave the world his Compositions 1960, one of which gives the performer only the following text to work with, Draw a straight line and follow it. Another of Young's pieces from around this time, Piano Piece for David Tudor No. 1, involves a piano feeding or being fed on straw.

DE McCarthy's Performance V, Infinite Comfortcarries the following note, "A hairdryer is switched on and kept near the performer whilst he/she relaxes. The performance ends after the hairdryer is switched off." Perhaps McCarthy wants to emulate Young, perhaps he intended his piece as a 50th anniversary tribute to Compositions 1960. Either way, and to the clear bemusement of the audience, the composer sat, apparently reading, while the hairdryer buzzed and blew on a table beside him.


Piaras Hoban's Ná bac leis an seanfhuaimwas a piece which did what it said on the tin, in this case concentrating on the whistling, scraping, quavering, shivering sounds that composers so liked exploring in the 1960s.

Glen Austin's The Shaman's Dancesounded rather aimless, given its title, even when it was at its most rhythmically choppy. Bill McGrath's Seven Breathshad the air of an academic work, trying to live in rather than renew the style of a bygone era, and Maureen Doris's All in White, Beneath the Snow (For Leah Alice Craddock)was an unexceptionable lament for a friend.

The fragmented gestures of Fergal Mulloy's There will be no grenades this termfeatured gestures that were like echoes or memories of the past, and were taken up in not entirely convincing romantic virtuoso manner by Lunny.

Matthew Whiteside's The Wavering Gorgewas at its best when in playful pizzicato mode, and Dave Flynn's Between the Jigs and the Reels, in an arrangement for violin, cello and electric guitar of a piece originally for violin and piano, wandered in and out of styles traditional and classical with New Age nonchalance.

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan

Michael Dervan is a music critic and Irish Times contributor