A Doll’s House


Formed in 1992, the British percussion quartet ensemblebash has forged a reputation as one of the world’s most innovative and groundbreaking chamber ensembles. Using the music of West Africa as both core repertoire and a guiding spiritual influence, ensemblebash mixes contemporary classical, jazz and music theatre into unforgettable performances. 

This new recording marks 20 years since the formation of the group, with the programme made up of some of their best commissions from the 2002 to 2012.

"ensemblebash, who make playing percussion the coolest, noisiest and funniest occupation on earth." The Times


What people are saying

"A marvellous CD from the Bashers to show off your newest playing equipment. Most of it is not loud; intricate subtleties from these multi-instrumentalists dominate the listening experience." Musical Pointers


Release date:27th Aug 2012
Order code:SIGCD294
Barcode: 635212029428

January 2013

‘A Doll’s House’ is a collection of mostly short (two- to six-minute) and refreshingly varied pieces by British composers born between 1943 and 1973, commissioned and performed by the percussion quartet Ensemble Bash now celebrating its 20th anniversary. Their crisp precision and commitment to each work is abetted by

vividly close-up and detailed engineering plus rapid DJ-like segues between selections that create a seamless, sustained programme.

Listeners familiar with Graham Firkin’s post-minimalist mastery or Howard Skempton’s stark delicacy will know what to expect from their opening contributions, although the non-verbal vocalisations and cowbell effects throughout Stephen Montague’s Rimfire reveal an airy, whimsical side to a composer I know more for his driving intensity. The late David Bedford’s Bash Peace is a lilting, evocative duet for steel pans, leading into Nick Hayes’s Dance Play for marimba, vibraphones and drum-set, which is essentially a samba with quirky rhythmic parentheses. By contrast, Peter McGarr’s Sound Asleep is a collage incorporating a multitude of instruments and non-instruments from glass chimes and pitch pipes to wine glass and egg slicer.

While Stewart Copeland’s Breather is light and improvisatory, Rachel Leach’s Echolalia rigorously manipulates repeated phrases from one instrument to another. The facile fingerwork and melodic sophistication characterising veteran jazz pianist/composer Keith Tippett’s instrumental prowess replicates itself over the 15-minute course of this programme’s concluding work, Dance of the Dragonfly, which abounds in twitchy yet virtuoso single lines, sudden explosions into free jazz, silences where you don’t expect them, shimmering fills from shakers and subtle, low-lying tremolos. 

Gramophone, Jed Dlstler

A marvellous CD from the Bashers to show off your newest playing equipment.
Most of it is not loud; intricate subtleties from these multi-instrumentalists dominate the listening experience. Most of the pieces are c. 5 mins or so, but she short life of the dragonfly gets the longest work, a quarter of an hour!


Musical Pointers, Peter Grahame Woolf

September 2012

This selection of new works for percussion ensemble offers a myriad different directions, several more refined and delicate than you’d expect from music. made by bashing. Howard Skempton’s "Slip-stream", for instance, is the most restrained of percussive duets, with vibes and glockenspiel twinkling delicately over shimmering cymbal, while. Peter McGarr’s "Sound Asleep" employs wind and string instruments alongside a wide range of percussion for a shifting evocation of a dreamscape. The longest piece is Keith Tippett’s absorbing "Dance Of The Dragonfly", a jittery work whose long pauses, punctuated by sudden rapid bursts of activity, skilfully evokes its insect subject’s brief but dazzling life.

The Independent

  1. Shard – Graham Fitkin – 2.24
  2. Slip-stream – Howard Skempton – 4.27
  3. Rimfire – Stephen Montague – 4.35
  4. Bash Peace – David Bedford – 5.05
  5. Dance Play – Nick Hayes – 4.32
  6. Sound Asleep – Peter McGarr – 5.37
  7. Breather – Stewart Copeland – 3.00
  8. Echolalia – Rachel Leach – 6.09
  9. Dance of the Dragonfly – Keith Tippett – 14.58