Must watch: What the maestro thinks as he conducts Mahler

Must watch: What the maestro thinks as he conducts Mahler


norman lebrecht

May 07, 2020

Brilliant video by the Orchestre National de Lille, featuring the inner voice of music director Alexandre Bloch as he conducts Mahler’s 7th symphony.

And his blood pressure measurement.

And Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

Brilliant stuff, new to Youtube this morning.




  • Alphonse says:

    Again with the Mahler obsession…let’s hear some Bruckner.

    • We privatize your value says:

      Or some Dvořák? Their exact contemporary, and he wrote a beautiful 7th, too. Or is he too Slav for your liking, Alphonse?

  • Amos says:

    Based on this 10 minute snippet, so much for the stereotype that French orchestras lack the Mahler gene(s).

    • jobim says:

      Not so bad for third rate orchestra. Mahler tradition was never strong indeed in France, except outside first and 4th. Too bad Mahler has become the new Beethoven, lots of effect on audience, perfect for global world, everywhere, therefore nowwhere…. but no inner response. Mehta and Maazel knew perfectlyhow to perform a Mahler symphony. Did they convey anything of its depth?…..Abbado had the bad luck to become sick, it gave him some depth he never had before, Ozawa?…. Karajan was prudent enough to limit himself to a few symphonies and never was a natural….

    • We privatize your value says:

      It seems to be a very good performance, indeed.

  • Allen says:

    “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

    Mark Twain

    • Garry Humphreys says:

      Nearly! ‘It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.’

  • Sarah says:

    Thank you. Learned a lot! Beautiful music…& great insight into the role of the conductor.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      The role of the conductor can be summed up in two words: necessary evil. They’re also there to collect the biggest pay check.

  • John Kelly says:

    Somehow I don’t think Klaus Tennstedt thought these thoughts…………but it is a fun video.
    Reiner or Szell would have an inner talk track more along the lines of “tempo wrong, my fault, but won’t ever admit it…..second trumpet sharp, he’s annoying……basses not together (in spite of rehearsal)………that first oboe is too loud and never practices at home……….Mahler should have cut out this bit, it’s too sentimental……….is it a tango or not?”………….

    • Greg Bottini says:

      It’s a funny comment, John, but not, I think, altogether accurate.
      I don’t know about Reiner, but one of my teachers studied with Szell and told me that Szell (who didn’t make very many mistakes) taught him to subtly point at himself when he made a conducting mistake, to let the musicians know that you know that THEY know.

      • Amos says:

        True! I read an account where a member of the cello section of the Cleveland Orchestra gave Szell a quizzical look during a performance because his beat was unclear. She recalled that he smiled at her acknowledging his mistake and when the same moment came back in the repeat he made sure he was clearer and again smiled at her.

    • Barry Guerrero says:

      No, Reiner’s thoughts would be similar to Trump’s . . “you’re fired” . . “and you’re fired” . . “and you’re fired” . . . etc.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Reiner always looked as if he had sniffed a thermometer just before.

        • Amos says:

          I’ve never understood the musical adulation showered on Reiner because as good as the CSO was during his tenure I find the vast majority of the recordings tepid at best. Perhaps I’m prejudiced because like most bullies he had a habit of wilting when pushed. In the 30’s, unlike Toscanini who refused to play the fascist anthem before a concert in Bologna and was assaulted when he left the theatre, Reiner conducted in Italy and when ordered to performed Giovinezza rather than showing a spine.

          • Brian viner says:

            Muti said Reiner made great recordings with the cso

          • Paul Carlile says:

            I was lucky. Hearing CSO/Reiner recordings of, especially Bartok, Strauss, Brahms & Haydn early in my teens, i knew nothing of the person and the bullying and was thrilled by intense, brilliant playing. Of course, later i wasn’t plose to learn about his character, but the music comes first and remains so. Same for uncongenial composers, (Wagner!).

  • Donald Hansen says:

    That’s his heart beats per minute, not his blood pressure.

  • fflambeau says:

    Blood pressure typically has 2 measures: here only one. He has wild swings in BP. Not good for him. He should have his heart checked.

  • Edgar Self says:

    What he should be thinking is, now how would Bruno Walter do this.