KLAS TORSTENSSON (b.1951): Self-Portrait with Percussion for Percussion Solo and Large Ensemble (Peppie Wiersma [percussion], Asko Ensemble; Nans Leenders), Diptych Intermezzo and Epilogue from the Opera The Expedition (Charlotte Riedijk [soprano], Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra; Alan Gilbert).
Catalogue Number: 02J114
Reference: KTC 1352
Description: Self-Portrait is an explosive percussion concerto, both a sonic spectacular and a tremendously exciting piece of music. Torstensson's idiom is hard to categorize; tonality is certainly very present - sometimes so much so, as in the sudden appearance of repeated chords in the 'woodpecker' movement that one is tempted to detect irony. But elsewhere, the wild and unformed nature sounds of Scandinavia (from which he emigrated to the Netherlands) - the cracking of ice, breaking of rocks and tree branches - are evoked in percussive outbursts of the utmost ferocity, and little connection to concert music with themes, melodies or conventional orchestral textures. Sometimes the composer combines the two, as when brooding orchestral textures suggesting Sibelius or Rautavaara are overlain by strata of percussion of every imaginable type. The two orchestral extracts from his opera The Expedition, about a tragic attempt on the North Pole, are also grounded in tonality, and again the violence of nature is hammered home in music of harrowing insistence and implacability. Very impressive stuff.