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<<  -- 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.

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Copyright © 29 March 2002 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK




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