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Donnacha Dennehy

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Tessellatum (2015)
Work Notes
Nadia Sirota is the exclusive soloist for live performances until after August 2018.
G Schirmer Inc
Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Year Composed
38 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Unavailable Explain this...
Programme Note
Donnacha Dennehy Tessellatum (2015)
Combination A
4 live viols + 7 recorded viols + 3 recorded violas

Combination B
As many live lines as one can get + remainder recorded

Combination C
1 live viol + remainder recorded

The recorded backing multi-track was completed by Nadia Sirota and Liam Byrne in Greenhouse Studios in Reykjavik, Iceland in December 2015, supervised by the composer and Paul Evans, engineer.

The multi-track for Combination A is available from the publisher. Please contact Music Sales if you wish to perform Combination B or C, for further details.
Listen to Tessellatum on the Q2 stream, beginning at 00:44:45
Listen to Nadia Sirota and Donnacha Dennehy discuss Tessellatum, beginning at 00:41:35

Sample Pages

  • 12 JAN 2018
    FERUS Festival 2018
    National Sawdust, Brooklyn, NY
    Nadia Sirota, violas; Liam Byrne, bass viols​
  • 20 NOV 2016
    The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
    Nadia Sirota,viola; Liam Byrne, viol
  • 05 FEB 2016
    Tessellatum World Premiere
    Symphony Space, New York, NY
    Nadia Sirota, viola

Tessellatum represents the first collaboration between [Nadia] Sirota and Dennehy, whose compositions often combine references to Irish traditional music, Bang on a Can–style repetitive structures and amplification, and the timbral explorations of the so-called Spectralist school out of France. The result was enthralling.

Sirota's playing, with its sparing vibrato and light, speedy bowing, is perfectly matched to the sound of the viol, and the piece progresses when moments of musical stasis are broken by a dramatic new musical feature in the solo viola — vigorous pizzicato, almost Celtic fiddling — that is then passed around through the other instruments. The texture then gradually coalesces into something resembling Tudor music for viol consort, complete with a descending four-note figure borrowed from John Dowland's Lachrymae for viols (or from Benjamin Britten's viola variations of the same name).

Then a trapdoor opens. The Dowlandesque dissonances thicken further into dense, microtonal chords, creating from the uncannily pure tone of the viol consort vivid, intense new colors: harmonies suggest at once the iridescence and the taste of an old copper pot, or both the rainbow halation of a streetlamp on a misty night and the buzz of its sodium bulb. The effect was hypnotic, and the piece, a single 38-minute movement, could have gone on forever and felt like a moment.
Daniel Stephen Johnson,,09/02/2016
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