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Watch: Prokofiev 5th performed without a conductor

May 28, 2017 by norman lebrecht

15 comments.


Rhythmically, it’s one of those tricky scores that needs a clear beat.

So can the LA-based Kaleidoscope Symphony Orchestra bring it off without a baton?

Just watch.


Comments (15)

  1. Patrick says:

    Fabulous! This is not as easy as it may look. For me, this is a conductor’s dream. An orchestra totally aware and completely committed to a performance. For the traditional “conducted” orchestra, the conductor must encourage and build this level of involvement, not simply assume “control”. Conductors have much to learn from this.

    1. Harold Lewis says:

      An excellent, committed performance. And good work on the part of the leader (concertmaster). Thank you for posting it.

  2. Smarty Hosen says:

    This is the orchestra Maestro Gergiev should conduct.

  3. My Two Cents says:

    This is indeed an admirable example of excellent and committed musicianship. Too many unconducted orchestral performances seem to be mostly about staying together; this one certainly transcends that and has a considerable amount of passion, verve and energy.

    My only personal issue would be with tempi, since the speed of a piece has as much to do with its character as the pitches and rhythms. The second and fourth movements are taken at clips considerably faster than Prokofiev indicated (132 to the quarter and 72 to the half, respectively), and, while the orchestra’s collective virtuosity is stunning, I subjectively think that some of the music’s punch and “‘tude” has been lost. I’m as dazzled by fleet fingers, rapid-fire articulation and flying bows as the next listener; I also think that they shouldn’t necessarily be on display if the composer’s message (the most important aspect of a performance) is in any way obscured in the process.

    1. M2N2K says:

      Of course they shouldn’t, but the fact that it was “obscured” for you does not mean that it was so for other listeners.

  4. Cubs Fan says:

    Amazing! Such talent and no need for an over-rated, over-paid conductor who likely just gets in the way! And the contrabassoonist: actually playing the heavy thing standing with a neckstrap…hope he has a good chiropractor! Bravo to all!

    1. Patrick says:

      So much hate.

  5. CapeCod says:

    Wonderful! Visible joy in this collaboration and display of true musicianship.

  6. Milena Zlatarova says:

    Absolutely amazing and spectacular performance! What those musicians are doing is worth of respect and admiration! Very interesting project on a highest level.

  7. Mike says:

    This was singularly one of the most amazing experiences of my life. And I’ve had a few. Prokofiev’s 5th was my introduction to classical music via a CD discovered while house sitting as a teen. To experience this 30 years later while sat front and center (where the conductor should have been) was nothing short of mind-blowing. Thank you players of Kaleidoscope for giving me an experience that money literally couldn’t buy! God bless you, music, and Prokofiev.

  8. MacroV says:

    It’s excellent, and fascinating. I’d be interested to know how long they rehearsed. One justification for a conductor is to save the orchestra rehearsal time, since direction comes from one source.

    1. M2N2K says:

      Usually for each full program they have six three-hour-long rehearsals.

  9. Peter Owen says:

    A magnificent performance with some near-telepathic moments. I presume standing up must help with coordination. Heroic of the contrabassoon to do this, I wonder why the tuba remained seated.

  10. Robert Holmén says:

    A contrabassoon on a neck strap!

    It hurts just to watch that.


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