Playing Mahler without a conductor?

Playing Mahler without a conductor?


norman lebrecht

November 17, 2016

We’ve just been told that the Natalia Ensemble – former members of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra – are about to attempt the first movement of Mahler’s second, unconducted.

Impossible? Insane? Illegal in the EU?

Looks like they’ve already done a selfie reduction of Mahler 5.


  • John Borstlap says:

    Hilarious….. wholeheartedly recommended for ensembles with ambition but a small purse. The repertoire has then to be restricted to the works that everybody knows by heart and can play in their sleep.

  • Jorge says:

    The Natalia Ensemble is a great example of how the huge nos. of well-trained young Spanish orch. players are confronting the lack of regular jobs and glut of qualified players in Spain. No orch. jobs? Start your own.!

    These are young musicians trained at top European conservatoires returning to Spain after studying abroad hoping for employment. They are multi-lingual, business savvy and skilled at social media. This is the “super generation” of Spanish orch. players whose nos. include 25 year old Tchaik finalist Pablo Ferrandez of Madrid, now embarking on a solo career.

    Natalia is clever, talented and very good at marketing themselves. Theyare a joy to watch and listen to. And they love what they do!

    Full sized symphony orchestras with private funding (Spain’s main orchs. are govt. funded) often organized by the players themselves, are sprouting up everywhere in Spain. And they are good!

    Film Symphony Orch. is another self-promoting young group of Spanish players. They specialize in touring programs of film soundtracks

    The list goes on and on – so many of these new groups! Bravo to Natalia and to the excellent entrepreneurship of these fine young players!

    • John Borstlap says:

      This comment does make me regret my former comment.

      Such initiatives should be encouraged, and hopefully some well-funded complete orchestras will emerge from such young enthusiasm. Audiences will be needed, so education and marketing will be needed to create the foundation for these musicians.

      It is a hopeful sign that classical music still does inspire young people to accept sacrifice and difficulties, to be able to serve the art form. Let it be a compensation for so much negative publicity about classical music.

    • John says:

      Superb! This makes me want to find a chamber version of this and other Mahler symphonies. Brilliant, really.

      • Bruce says:

        I played in a chamber version of #4 a few years ago. I forget who did the arrangement, but it was a contemporary of Berg & Schoenberg. It was really nice.

  • Anon says:

    The Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra performed Mahler 4 without a conductor. Their performance is on YouTube- I recommend it.