ClassicFM clip of near-orgasmic conductors

I’m pretty much obsessed with this clip of conductors absolutely losing their s**t at a particularly awesome moment of classical music. (Watch it with the sound OFF first, try to guess what the piece is…)

On the one hand, it’s so obviously silly… these old men wearing tuxes, some with very awful hair, waving their sticks around and seeming to scream along with the music. On the other hand, how often do you really get to see pure lay-it-all-out-on-the-line passion and emotion so clearly etched on someone’s face? I’m glad we live in a world where that kind of thing happens.

The piece of music is:

Mahler’s 2nd (Resurrection) Symphony, the climax of the 5th movement. (Insert your own “climax” and “movement” jokes here.) Which, I’m proud to say, was my first guess, as it’s my favorite work of all time.

I subscribe to the symphony pretty much wherever I’m living so I get used to the principal and associate conductors. I’ve noted is that when we have guest conductors, which usually happens once per season, they seem to conduct “larger” than the regular conductors. Their gestures are bigger, their movements more pronounced. I’ve speculated that it’s one of two things, either they figure that as a guest they need to give a better show, or the musicians are less used to them so they dispense with the nuance and go big.

This guy was a little more cheeky than orgasmic.

I doubt if it’s matter of putting on histrionics for the audience - they can mostly only see the conductor’s back anyway. It’s mostly a question of what’s going on between the conductor and the orchestra (and that will have a lot to do with whatever’s gone on between them in rehearsal and what the conductor’s trying to remind them to convey at any given point).

I did once get to sit in a seat behind the choir and orchestra at a performance of Beethoven’s 9th, and that was a very physically expressive conductor.
On the other hand, the likes of Klemperer could be almost impassive, and on occasion Barenboim’s party piece has been to just stand back and let the orchestra get on with it and even, during one joyous encore, to go and sit with the audience to listen…