[I don't know the original sender of this item, and obviously I am not
responsible for its phrasing, but the burden of the message is important
Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds
The sad news has just reached me of the deaths, within days
of each other, of the last two stalwarts of the Decca golden
age - Jimmy Lock, the chief sound engineer, and Christopher
Raeburn, the label's driving-force producer.
Jimmy was in the throes of selling his north London house
and moving to work in a Portuguese studio when he was found
dead by a visiting estate agent. He had joined the label
in 1963 and advanced the famous Decca Sound into digital
and beyond. Sir Georg Solti, I seem to recall, had great
respect for his ears and great affection for his character.
Christopher joined Decca in 1954 and, as I related here,
was conscripted almost immediately into John Culshaw's Ring
project in Vienna, the first studio recording of the Wagner
cycle. He could have succeeded Culshaw as head of the label
by chose not to compete with the shadowy Ray Minshull. From
1975 he was Decca's director of opera productions. His
greatest discovery was Cecilia Bartoli but he also worked
happily over the years with Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland,
Renee Fleming, Angela Gheorghiu and other Decca properties.
Unusually for a Decca man, he was notably fond of female
company. He stopped taking phone calls early this month,
dying discreetly of lung cancer.
Why are you reading of their deaths here? Because no-one
at Decca has put out a press release on the passing of these
company lions. Decca, as I've reported, has been eviscerated
by corporate paper-shifters at its Universal owners and no
longer functions coherently.
Decca, sad to say, is deader than Jimmy and Chris, whose
work will live on. The label has lost its classical core,
its educational drive, most of its staff and the last relics
of its soul. Hard-copy evidence of the Decca Sound and the
Decca style will outlast the label's bonus-seeking executioners.
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