<< -- 3 -- Bill Newman EPISODES FROM A MEMORY BANK
To say that Basil Cameron was nonchalant would not be true. His bow to
the audience was almost apologetic, and he would casually invite the players
to be seated as if he were to start a relay race. The beat might be described
as ungainly. Although his legs and feet were comfortably positioned, the
body and arms appeared disproportionate at times. One or the other would
pivot towards sections, emphasising entries. Also, his baton would freeze
on a downbeat, then continue the flow with a sideways motion. Slowing the
pulse he assumed control of his forces in one and the same breath. I realized
that the players knew and understood every gesture.
Like Furtwängler there were certain anomalies, but a thoroughness
for detail involving balance of rhythms and colours with consistency of
buildup were synonymous with the correct style and content.
Sir Malcolm Arnold, who I missed as Principal trumpet in 1948, told me
of rehearsals where players gave Cameron a hard time. Sometimes, as pianist
Colin Horsley said, the conductor would leave the rostrum and lock himself
in his dressing room. Arnold remembers players saying 'Basil, we know
exactly what you want. Please let's get on with it'!
He would visit Cameron in the Queen Mary Hospital where he hired a room
during the winter months in later life. 'But you are still marking
up your score. We have already gone over all the main points'. The
reply was immediately forthcoming, 'Ah, but you must realise this is
to remind myself, and there are always other pointers to bring
out, as I have since discovered'. Somewhat painstaking, he possessed
the hallmark of a true musician who wanted to give of his best to public
and critics alike.
Copyright © 29 March 2002
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
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