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Den australske klarinettist Murray Khouri, født i 1941, har spillet med flere af Londons orkestre og skriver underholdende om nogle af de store dirigenter han har mødt gennem sin karriere.
Tyranniske dirigenter som driver orkestret frem med hård hånd, hører en anden tid til. Nu om dage er der normalt en meget varm og direkte kontakt mellem dirigent og orkestermusikere, og dirigenten behøver ikke tale med store ord for at nå et fantastisk resultat. Det konkluderer klarinettisten Mussay Khori der har oplevet lidt af hvert fra sin pult i engelske orkestre som BBC, London Philharmonic Orchestra og Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Sådan beskriver han f.eks. sit møde med Georg Solti:
“I was looking forward intensely to my first encounter with Georg Solti, having been brought up on his countless Decca recordings. With him, as with Szell, the orchestra was kept in the tightest grip with orchestral soloists bound hand and foot to his baton. It was his constant pressing and aggression that led to Solti as a conductor finally losing me. We were rehearsing Bruckner’s 8 th Symphony, a glorious work with its vast cathedral like sounds. To the brass section, “smash it, smash it”, he exhorted, producing a predictably raucous result. He simply couldn’t let the orchestra breathe and relax when the music called for it. Both Solti and Szell were pianists, whereas Kempe had been a Principal Oboe. They played on the orchestra like a keyboard, exactly the opposite of Beecham or Boult. ‘Elegance’ was a word absent from Solti’s vocabulary. Many, like me, found his baton technique wanting. All the time exhorting the strings to press harder, the opposite of Leopold Stokowski, with his penchant for ‘free bowing’. When we played the Mahler Symphonies with Solti, I felt physically sick at the unrelenting driving force, with one climax piled on after the other, until one was exhausted at the lack of repose.”
Leopold Stokowski havde en helt anderledes blid facon som Khuri beskriver således:
“Leopold Stokowski came to conduct the Royal College of Music (“RCM”) Symphony Orchestra when I was a student there. I could not believe he really was there, this living legend, famous because of his work with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the star of Disney’s Fantasia. We crowded around him, successfully getting his autograph which I treasure to this day. Then we started to rehearse Brahms’s Second Symphony. He stopped twice: the first time, to say to our First Horn, ‘Bravo, First Horn, that is a real waldhorn sound’. Then he turned to me, when I had a clarinet solo, to say ‘See frescoes around the Concert Hall? Your solos must stand out like that, in high relief’. And miracles of miracles, it wasn’t long before the RCM Symphony Orchestra took on the Stokowski sound. He was absolutely hypnotic, saying all the times to the String Section: “Free bowing, free bowing!”. All of which leads to answering the question: “What does it take to be a great conductor?” At its best, it is drawing the sound out of the players, the score in his head, not the head in his score. He didn’t beat time in the literal sense, rather, getting all the players to take responsibility for the end result, with him standing there, moulding and shaping the music. Another way of putting it is the ‘man on the podium is the conduit to the composer’s wishes, all the sounds passing through the one man’.”