Zauberflöte in Göteborg
A self-glowing and brave interpretation!
There is a lightness in the voices which leads to a sort of trampoline effect, thanks to the congenial interpretation of the score by conductor Henrik Schaefer. The Orchestra played an immensely fine performance, with an emphasis on fast and volatile passion.
Whirling ballerinas and breathtaking tempochanges characterize the staging of the magic flute at Gothenburg opera... Conductor Henrik Schaefer gives us a Mozart interpretation, which is full of swing and lightness and sometimes has breathtaking tempochanges and accelerations. On top of that we may enjoy the 21 bar long cadenza for the 3 ladies in the first act. It is an amazingly entertaining performance. A triumph for orchestra and ensemble.
- Dagens Nyheter
Parsifal in Karlstad
...the emphasis seems to have been put on the musical characterisation, led by Henrik Schaefer with great sensitivity in a finely elaborated rendering with a consistently vivid orchestral sound.
- Svenska Dagbladet
Karlstad Opera’s Parsifal in Karlstad Cathedral is breathtaking. An affecting encounter that effectively uses the sacred space...
Musically, it’s ravishing. The conductor Henrik Schaefer does not only have a firm hold on the form, he also manages to give the reinforced orchestra the sombre and yet shimmering tone that is unique to this work, the reed-section precise in their legato and tastefully executed portamenti in the strings – along with an excellent first trumpet.
Whatever your beliefs are: for the sake of God, get yourselves to Karlstad Cathedral and delight in this Parsifal while there is time.
- Dagens Nyheter
‘The Miracle of Karlstad’
If one should refrain from the old cliché of not singling out or forgetting anyone – who shall receive the highest praise? ...Henrik Schaefer, the conductor? With tender practices from older playing techniques and sound-ideals and a continuous contact with the stage and the singers he presents us with a born-again Parsifal.
During eight more performances, until March 31, Karlstad Cathedral transforms into a Grail- temple. Go there. Make a pilgrimage.
Ring in Karlstad
Miracle in Karlstad.
That in itself creates an extremely fascinating soundscape where the sound of the orchestra really becomes an integral part of the room experience. You hear all the sounds, but as if they were at the same time near and distant, almost in you and far, far away. The music becomes transparent and physically tangible and provides the singers space to a finer and more dimmed expression.
The orchestra of the Wermland Opera is hidden on the upper balcony and spreads a sort of surround-sound that is in perfect balance with the singers on stage.
Just as Wagner desired: the orchestra is invisible and does not disturb the contact between singers and audiences in any kind. They also play with seductive portamenti that weld together all ”Leitmotive” to pure gold. Conductor Henrik Schaefer does not only know why he has to do this, but also how and that makes his interpretation so unbelievably convincing!
Finally I want to say that I have a favourite German in Karlstad apart from Richard Wagner himself; conductor Henrik Schaefer way up there under the roof of Wermland's Opera.
When conductor Henrik Schaefer steps out on stage with full orchestra, I have seldomly seen a happier and more exhausted man to receive the audience’s standing ovation. On this particular Sunday evening, he is worth ten opera houses filled with resounding cheers.
- Nya Wermlands Tidning
Hänsel und Gretel in Göteborg
What really touched me is the orchestra playing under the baton of Henrik Schaefer. Here you can hear the fines nuances and the feeling for the long melodic bows of Humperdinck's music is really impressive.
Hamlet von Ambroise Thomas
After the interval the opera focuses on the human side and it is here where Henrik Schaefer's fantastic interpretation of the score touches the most.
It is an old fashioned world that get re-ewoken in a music that most of us have never heard; but the enchantement has to do with the unknown. Something difficult to explain.
Lulu-Suite und Brahms 2
Schaefer focusses on the lightness within this music and the incomparable art of instrumentation that enables the sounds to move featherlight between the sections. Fragmentaric dream-melodies, a stream of light in the middle of the dark and disturbing... Probably the Gothenburg opera should think about a complete performance of Lulu, where the contemporary understanding of the contradictory Lulu-character is the focus.
Schaefer manages to balance these complex developments and the art of balancing continues in his Brahms interpretation. Here you can hear, how close this music is to his heart. He seems to have an album of ideas and and an archive of sounds and the details are always taken care of.
But what convinces especially is the big form, the long lines and the energies that awoke when different passages mirror one another.
Sibelius 2 in Norrköping
‘The best Sibelius 2nd I ever heard’
My encounter with Sibelius 2nd Symphony last Thursday will probably stay in the musical databank of my memory. This is how the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra sounds when they’re on top, led by a conductor who knows how to find the essence of the music and merge the parts to a whole. The introduction, with daring pauses and big rubati was a bit disconcerting at first, but soon I was convinced that Henrik Schaefer knew what he was doing. He build the framing structure while minding the details, thus providing a background for more lively excursions.
In the second movement nothing was left to chance, the music was chiseled and sculpted from a larger whole. Here lines and thoughts were drawn to the utter limits with evenly distributed dynamics. Here emerged the kind of high-voltage musicianship that doesn’t just appear when asked for. The third movement started off at express speed, the wind-harmonics displaying the small print. And once arriving to the wonderful theme, we were treated with a hauntingly beautiful interpretation – following the rule-book – but with it’s own key signature. Truth be told; the best Sibelius 2nd I ever heard.