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James Lock remembered

test 3 March 2009

UK: The legendary former Decca chief engineer passed away earlier this month, reports PSN-e. A renowned figure in the classical recording world, Lock worked with some of the world’s most eminent conductors – including Sir Georg Solti and Herbert Von Karajan – during a career of more than five decades’ duration.

After beginning his career as a trainee for the International Broadcasting Corporation in 1955, Lock joined the Decca engineering team of Kenneth Wilkinson and Gordon Parry. During the next four decades, he contributed to scores of legendary recordings, including the Herbert Von Karajan-conducted mid ’70s performances of Puccini’s La Boheme and Madama Butterfly.

An engineer who prioritised accuracy and acoustic fidelity, Lock won two Grammy Awards and is widely regarded to have achieved one of the first completely successful 5.1 classical music recordings with The Three Tenors Concert – Caracalla.

After leaving Decca in 1997, Lock embarked upon a second phase of his career, working as a sound consultant and adviser for venues including the new Concert Hall in Valencia, Severance Hall in Cleveland, and Victoria Hall in Geneva. More recently, an engagement with the Portuguese Gulbenkian Orchestra in 2005 led to discussions with Jo_o Ganho, a film sound designer and the owner of O Ganho do Som studio in Lisbon. Two years later, Lock joined the studio as resident engineer and consultant, working on movie soundtracks and 5.1 editions of classic late ’70s recordings.

In his own fond look-back at Lock’s distinguished career, Ganho remembered him as "the best classical music engineer of all time, but I will remember him as a very educated, nice and warm human being_ Recordings will never sound the same."

"One of Jimmy’s finest legacies," adds Meyer Sound’s John Pellowe, who worked with Lock for 22 years at Decca, "was that he built a bridge between engineering and artistry that forever banished the concept of engineers wearing brown coats and flat caps. Jimmy was loved by all the stars he worked with. His opinion of performances was frequently sought by artists and understandably so as he had an amazing knowledge of music that I and many other engineering staff envied. It was this knowledge that made his opinion really worth listening too.

"There are numerous things to remember Jimmy for outside of the music industry too, but I’ll list just three: his extraordinary generosity, his insightful intelligence and, last but not least, the most wonderful, sharp-witted sense of humour one could ever have the pleasure to encounter."

Image credit: O Ganho do Som

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