Artistry of the Highest Level from Henrik Måwe and Göran Eliasson

SwedenSweden Concert with Henrik Måwe and Göran Eliasson: Vattnäs Concert Barn, Mora, 7.7.2017. (GF)


The title of this concert may be slightly misleading, since each of the two artists appeared as the central character during one half of the afternoon.

For several years now, Henrik Måwe has been one of the most versatile pianists in the country. Besides his solo appearances, he is a much appreciated chamber musician and accompanist. Now he can also add “actor” to his CV. Not only did he play Chopin – he was Chopin! Dressed in period costume, he entertained a packed hall with a monologue conveying the thoughts and memories of the ailing composer toward the end of his far too short life. It was a narration spiced with both tragedy and humorous twists. Even the persistent fits of coughing were so realistic that one thought Henrik himself was suffering from tuberculosis.

The monologue was sensitively written by Martyna Kaiser, who also directed the performance. She had the same functions in last year’s production of Coco Chanel in Vattnäs. The costume was designed by Camilla Thulin, who has created costumes for more than thirty theatre and musical productions, written books on style and hosted TV programmes. Kim Peterson was responsible for sound and mixing. All in all, this was a truly fascinating performance that will be long remembered by those present.

The repertoire – performed during the performance in whole or in part – was a compendium of much of the very best from Chopin’s pen:

Mazurka in F minor Op.68 No.4
Nocturne in F major Op.15 No.1
Etude in C minor Op.10 No.12 “Revolution”
Waltz in C sharp minor Op.64 No.2
Prelude in D flat major Op.28 No.15 “Raindrop”
Prelude in C minor Op.28 No.20
Prelude in B flat minor Op.28 No.16
Sonata in B flat minor Op.35, Movement II “Funeral march”
Polonaise in A flat major Op.54
Andante Spianato Op.22 (pre-recorded)

After the interval, tenor Göran Eliasson, managing director of the Concert Barn and founder of Eliasson Artist, one of the largest artist agencies for classical music in Scandinavia, announced that he is now returning to singing full time and at the same time releasing a CD, entitled Retrospettivamente, with songs, arias, musical numbers, jazz songs and popular songs from his wide repertoire. For more than twenty years, he was a successful opera and concert singer pursuing an international career. During the presentation of several of the titles from his new CD, it was obvious that his voice and interpretative insight are still in mint condition.

He opened with Mogens Schrader’s “Sommarnatt”, with Henrik Måwe back on stage as well, after his gigantic performance before the interval, accompanying sensitively while Göran Eliasson sang softly and naturally with beautiful tone and lovely pianissimos but also demonstrated his brilliant top range. Then the Vattnäs Chamber Orchestra took over – but still with Måwe at the piano. First two songs by Kurt Weill: “Speak Low” from One Touch of Venus, which was an old favourite, and “Youkali”, which became a favourite at last year’s Coco Chanel performances. Lucio Dalla’s “Caruso” from 1986, has become popular with tenors, but Eliasson approached it with some trepidation since it was “the most difficult song he had ever taken on”, as he said, due to the high tessitura. No problem at all for him, though, he sang it brilliantly.

To show his eclectic taste, Eliasson then introduced a fairly modern pop song, the British rock group Coldplay’s ”Fix You” from 2005. For this he needed a chorus, provided by soprano Amelia Jakobsson, bass-baritone Lars Arvidson – both due to sing in the opera Kärlekskriget just an hour later – and tenor Tobias Westman, who had leading parts in Silverfågeln in 2015 and Coco Chanel last year. The ovations were well deserved! Göran Eliasson and the orchestra then proceeded to round off the programme with the ever-popular “Tonerna” by Carl Leopold Sjöberg, with a truly beautiful pianissimo at the end.

Ever since the Concert Barn was inaugurated six years ago, not only opera productions but also many wonderful concerts have been staged, with interesting constellations of artists and fascinating programme ideas. There is no routine, and this concert proves my point.

Göran Forsling

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