Thanks for sharing!
I've heard complete session tapes from Dorati recordings. He was merciless in his criticism, but he
almost never blew his stack just to be abusive, he did it to focus and rally people to play above
their comfort levels (clearly not above their abilities, which was the underlying thing he believed
and was getting across via brute force). The other great Hungarian conductors, particularly Reiner
and Szell were often less than polite when going after the same kind of playing.
Harold Lawrence was an amazing ace with the razor blade. Suffice say say, it takes a long time to
clean before playing a Mercury master tape of difficult or complex music, because there are many
splices. On the other hand, when I remastered the Dorati/Minneapolis Beethoven 3rd, two of the
movements were nearly complete, with one splice each. The other two movements had sections of nearly
note-by-note splices surrounded by long complete-take sections. So it depended on what Dorati was or
wasn't hearing out of the players.
There are probably less abrasive ways to get a group of performing artists to all take their art to
the highest level of skill at the same time, and under the gun of union rules and the cost of making
recordings. But, I will say this -- most of the modern conductors have clearly not found these ways,
and the result is unexciting recordings that don't sell well. This kind of dynamic interests me, and
I follow different football coaching styles. The only non-abrasive style I've heard of that seems to
work well in the modern game is what Pete Carroll does with the Seattle Seahawks, and the only way
it works is because he's so dynamic with his positive reinforcement that the team has to go all in,
and they cull people who aren't all in. Imagine trying to get a whole symphony orchestra in that
mode, and think of what conductor has both the positive-reinforcement skills AND the positive-driven
force of personality to pull it off. The only one I can think of was, so I've read, Monteux.
Botton line, I think Mr. Wick's perspective is healthy- he was thick-skinned enough to discount
Dorati's harsh delivery enough to appreciate the points the conductor was making, and as a result he
ends up very proud of the end product. It's the musical equivilent of the old sports addage - no
pain, no gain.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Eric Nagamine" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, October 05, 2015 3:14 AM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] LSO trombonist Denis Wick comments about recording the Berg 3 Pieces for Mercury
> Thought Tom Fine and others might be interested in the recording process for
> an early LSO recording with Dorati.
> "The most fascinating period for me in the development of the LSO was during
> the Mercury recording sessions. in the summers of the late 1950s. Antal
> Dorati combined intense musical passion and a demand for perfection with a
> very short fuse and a Hungarian waywardness that gave him unique qualities.
> In the space of a few hours, his screaming at us, tempered by careful
> measured criticism from the backstage voice of the oh-so-polite Harold
> Lawrence, the record producer, polished the orchestra, turning it into the
> precision machine that can be heard on those records. The Alban Berg op. 6
> Three Pieces for Orchestra could not have been played at a concert in those
> days. The recording was made in sections of as little as 16 or even 8 bars,
> with every snippet honed to perfection. I remember how my old friend Jay
> Friedman, of the CSO was so impressed by our playing! I could hardly bring
> myself to tell him how it was really done. This kind of note-bashing could
> hardly happen now, in today's LSO, but that kind of training did much to
> lift the orchestra from being just competent to brilliant." Denis Wick
> Eric Nagamine