Although born in Sweden, Klas Torstensson has spent most of his working life in the Netherlands following his studies in Utrecht in the early 1970s. Stylistically, he may call to mind Varèse, Xenakis and – perhaps more distantly – Stravinsky. First and foremost, however, Torstensson’s music is personal and distinctive. It is often nourished by his experiences of nature: rough granite, the sea, ice in the frozen Baltic inlets, the polar ice cap. His Lantern Lectures were composed in the aftermath of his opera The Expedition, about an ill-fated journey to the North Pole. While occupied with the opera he had received commissions from &&&several different ensembles, and he therefore decided to write a cycle of works for these ensembles – compositions to be performed separately or as ‘movements’ forming a greater whole.
The four lectures portray fundamental elements and phenomena in Nordic nature: bedrock with stratified memories of its violent origins (Solid Rocks I & II), traces of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and potholes, cylindrical holes drilled into the bedrock under glaciers (Giant’s Cauldron). They all involve 12 to 15 players, and are connected by Brass Links, brief interludes for trumpet, horn and trombone. Lantern Lectures is here performed by Norrbotten NEO, an ensemble dedicated to the promotion of contemporary chamber music, conducted by Christian Karlsen.