Friday, February 20, 2009

Christopher Raeburn and Jimmy Lock both pass away

Mourning today the passing of two of the great driving forces of Decca.

Christopher Raeburn was a great-hearted and golden-eared individual with high musical ideals and an infallible instinct for talent-spotting and development. He was the best-known and best-loved of Decca's producers, having joined the label in 1954 and bouncing straight into the first-ever studio recording of the Ring Cycle. Jimmy Locke was the chief sound engineer and the brain behind the much-celebrated 'Decca sound' from 1963, a 'star among stars' as Valerie Solti says.

Michael Haas has written an obituary of Christopher for Gramophone, quoting Angelika Kirchschlager's tribute: "When you listen to me, it’s not only with your ear, but even more with your soul, searching for perfection not only in intonation but in truth. There is no better example of knowledge, enthusiasm, respect and humanity in this world of music than you!"

Norman Lebrecht is inviting further comment over at Slipped Disc, more are appearing at Gramophone, here and here, and I too would like to invite your memories, tributes and so forth in the comment boxes below, please.

I got to know Christopher personally just a few years ago, but can think of few people in the business whose warm and open nature and absolute artistic integrity inspired so much affection so quickly.

To lose both him and Jimmy within days, and barely a week after the 'realigning' or whatever it is of Decca itself hit the cyberwaves, seems not only tragic but also ironically symbolic...but I don't have to tell you that. You can see it clear as daylight without anyone uttering a word.

UPDATE, 27 February: Here is an obituary of Christopher from The Independent.