The Belgian Nicholas Lens is not a begginer to the world of classical music. He is well-known for his operas but also he composes contemporary music. He celebrated his international breakthrough in 1994 when his debut Flamma Flamma – The Fire Requiem was released and earned the worldwide success. That was the prelude to a trilogy that he continued in 1999 and 2005. Before Lens started a sensational project two years later, the opera Slow Man celebrated its world premiere in 2012. Together with the Australian rock star Nick Cave, he composed the opera Shell Shock and performed it at the Royal Opera House in Brussels. The unusual collaboration caused a tremendous rustling of leaves. After all, it was first work of Cave in the classical world but it seems like it will not be the only one.
Nick Cave Wrote The Libretto
2020 was the year that turned almost all musicians’ plans upside down. The artists had to cancel the tours around the world; composers and bands were on hold. After a time of the deserted Brussels by bike, Nicholas Lens had the idea for new work. It should consist of twelve litanies. Lens again contacted Nick Cave and asked for the libretto. He said yes immediately but then realized that he had been too hasty. After all, according to his statement, he first had to look up what exactly litanies are actually.
A Musical Puzzle Emerges
He found that his approach to music was exactly how the books describe litanies to his great relief. And so the Australian got to work. Nicholas Lens composed the music; Cave contributed the lyrics. Due to the extraordinary situation, Lens had to work like a puzzle. Each of the musicians and singers made their contribution. The producers assembled these parts into a large whole. Now you can hear the result of their work. Unlike Shell Shock before, the L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S. show us chamber music, with a slight touch of popular music. Numerous singers interpret Nick Cave’s lyrics. The eleven instrumentalists bring Nicholas Lens music to life. Not only Denzil Delaere, N. L. Noorenbergh and Claron McFadden can be heard, but also Clare-Lane Lens, the composer’s daughter. The trained singer contributes her part to this successful total work of art.
Nick Cave conjures up his creator a total of twelve times and asks for guidance and redemption. The repetitive chants develop an extraordinary pull that immediately captivates the listener. The neoclassical work has slight echoes of pop music in some parts, without slipping off entirely. L.I.T.A.N.I.E.S. will appeal to fans of both musical worlds and ideally even unite them. The instrumentation is delicate and effective. The piano provides the keynote, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone are following. Accompanied by the viola, violin, and cello with some electronics, this creates a musical foundation for the singers to spread their incredible art. The successful collaboration between the two different artists is worth listening to it.