Results tagged “christopher raeburn” from Slipped disc

Let me share with you a memo from a Promotions Executive at Universal Music Group:



I have had a request from Int Tune (Radio 3) to have Tutula Bartley on the show today to discuss Christopher Ravens sad departure and to speak of her memories of him. I don't suppose she is around and in the UK



I have withheld the names of the parties to this correspondence and reprinted the document verbatim. At first sight, I thought it must be someone on the pop side of Universal who had never heard of Ms Bartoli and Mr Raeburn. But no: the person who wrote this missive actually works as an executive for the classical side of Universal.

She knows not Cecilia Bartoli, fancy that. What of Luciano Epiglottis, Joan Scuttlebutt and George Shorty?  Are there no limits to Universal ignorance?

Chris Roberts, head of the UCJ division, insists that Decca is still functioning and that its artists are valued assets. This memo, and much else, gives the lie to that. I must get some of those Tutula Bartley records.

Today is the funeral of Jimmy Lock, the last defender of the Decca Sound. May he rest with the immortals.





February 27, 2009 9:46 AM | | Comments (2)

James Lock's funeral will take place this Friday in Golders Green and Christopher Raeburn's the following Friday in Amersham. I guess the Universal Music Group will send a wreath or two.

After repeated inquiries from musicians and members of the music profession as to why Decca had not issued any notice of the deaths of its last backroom legends, an external publicist was contracted to put together a press release at the very end of the working week - and almost a week after Jimmy died.

The press release, needless to say, was as personal as a parking ticket. It was constructed around a paragraph from Universal Classics and Jazz chief Chris Roberts, who gave no intimation of having met either man. Its opening sentence, a semi-literate sales blurb, is about as far you need to read:

Christopher and James'  legacies are incalculable as both worked for decades on hundreds of recordings that will always be listened to and enjoyed by millions of people.

How absolutely miserable that none of the remaining staff at Decca was allowed by the bonus-chasers at Universal head office to offer anything like the personal tributes that former colleagues are contributing here and elsewhere.


February 21, 2009 7:04 PM |

Valerie Solti has posted a fond tribute to James Lock on the Gramophone website.

And an aide of Luciano Pavarotti has been in touch to say how much he loved Jimmy and Christopher Raeburn, staying in touch almost till the day he died. 

If any readers want to share personal memories of Jimmy and Christopher, from within the Decca studio or one of those famously indiscreet lunches, do use the comment space below as a message board.

If your life was changed by one of their records, likewise let us know.

I don't expect Universal Music Group to commemorate their legacy.



a  friend in London, who was at the Royal Festival Hall last night, reports :-

Zubin Mehta dedicated last night's performance of Bruckner 9 with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra to Christopher.
Mehta spoke movingly about him to the audience.
February 20, 2009 6:46 AM | | Comments (4)

See LATE EXTRA below

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. 


LATE EXTRA: BBC Radio 3 have responded to this blog by invting Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge to reminisce about Raeburn and Lock on In Tune tonight. If you miss the live tx, you can pick it up later on streaming. 

February 19, 2009 10:50 AM | | Comments (5)

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