Licks & Brains

Composer: Klas Torstensson

Solo for bass saxophone
Licks & Brains I (for saxophone quartet)
Licks & Brains II (for saxophone quartet an large ensemble)

In the course of the triptych as a whole, shifts occur in the degree of closesess and in the listeners' sense of proximity to the music.

In the first (solo) piece, the inside of the instrument is of primary importance. Both tone production and mechanism (action) are amplified out of all proportion, evoking the sensation of an extremely heavy and complex piece of machinery being revved into motion - the musical development comes off the ground with a great deal of struggle.

Solo has over the years been employed in several dance performances, most recently by the Swedish choreographer Efva Lilja/E.L.D. Solo was written for Leo van Oostrom.

With the second piece, Licks & Brains I, we find ourselves, as it were, within the music itself - music that develops a high level of virtuoso activity. The quartet, as the sax section in a big band, plays as a solid unit, striving to keep together and to build up to a continually more extended and refined repertoire of pitch, articulation and ways of playing.

Licks & Brains I was written for the Netherlands Saxophone Quartet.

In the third piece, Licks & Brains II, the music of the quartet is presented in a new setting. The music now appears in relation to a large entity built up of several layers. The orchestra furnishes a new musical context, at times enforcing a re-interpretation of the saxophone music.

Licks & Brains II was written for the Netherlands Saxophone Quartet and the Asko Ensemble.

Since its first performance in 1988, Licks & Brains has been performed in a number of European countries and in Canada, by Leo van Oostrom, Simone Otto, Jörgen Pettersson, Jean-Marc Bouchard, Netherlands Saxophone Quartet, Stockholms Saxofonkvartett, Quasar Quartet, Asko Ensemble, Oslo Sinfonietta, and the ensemble of the SMCQ (Société de musique contemporaine du Québec), Montréal.

The first complete performance of the triptych Licks & Brains took place on March 7, 2003, during the festival 'Montréal Nouvelles Musiques', in a performance by Jean-Marc Bouchard, the Quasar Saxophone Quartet, and the ensemble of SMCQ, conducted by Walter Boudreau.

Discography: Composers' Voice CV13 (Donemus Amsterdam)