Simon Eadon started at Decca in 1970 straight from school. The recording industry is not a profession normally associated with ex-pupils of Harrow School! However, a three-year apprenticeship involved precisely duplicating Master Tapes from which Decca's overseas licencees would cut their own LPs and press them locally. In this period the art of analogue (razor blade) tape editing, cassette mastering and LP mastering were also perfected. After a short period as tape-operator, his first session on the mixer was in July 1975 at Kingsway Hall recording a Ligeti LP. Since then he has gained a reputation in all fields of classical music recording but is especially renowned for his work with Choral and Organ repertoire. Many happy recordings have been made with the Choir of King's College Cambridge (where both his sons were choristers). The Beethoven Symphony cycle with the Tonhalle Orchestra and David Zinman for Arte Nova is now regarded as a bench-mark recording both musically and technically with sales of over 1 million copies. The Richard Strauss cycle for Arte Nova has also received critical acclaim. These recordings may be on a budget label, but no-holds barred full price criteria are applied to these as all Abbas recordings. Simon has been the recipient of most of the industry's awards and been involved with numerous Grammy winning projects. ()
John Dunkerley came to Decca in 1969 and was one of the last engineers to experience the whole range of recording and post-production skills before becoming a highly successful balance engineer. Like Simon, he learned much from veteran engineers Kenneth Wilkinson (Wilkie) and Jimmy Lock. He has a legendary reputation for fastidiousness and no-compromise in his approach to recordings. His greatest successes were establishing such high and consistent recording standards for CDs made with both the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra over a period of some twenty years. The unique Lyrita catalogue has been considerably enhanced by John's dedicated approach to his recordings. In Stockholm, John was responsible for all the Mozart Operas that were recorded with the Drottnigholm Court Opera under the direction of Arnold Ístman. He has been presented with most of the major Record Industry awards including twenty Grammys. He has been working extensively for EMI, amongst others, since the Decca days. ()
Chris Hazell studied composition at the Royal College of Music before joining the Argo division of Decca in 1973 as a producer. There he continued the legendary recordings of Sir Neville Marriner, Philip Jones, King's College Cambridge and Peter Hurford amongst others. As the Decca Group labels evolved his artist base widened to incorporate such names as Sir Georg Solti, Dame Joan Sutherland, Charles Dutoit and Sir Charles Mackerras with the Berlin, Chicago, Montreal Symphony and all the major London Orchestras, becoming Senior Producer in 1992. His many recordings with David Zinman in Baltimore have continued (after becoming freelance in 1997) with the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, on their award winning Beethoven Symphony cycle. His partnership on recordings with Simon Eadon is about to enter its 30th year.
Parallel to this has been his work as arranger and composer. His 'Brass Cats' (written for Philip Jones) is standard repertoire world-wide. He has worked extensively with Dame Kiri te Kanawa, and was both producer and arranger on Bryn Terfel's recent best selling Welsh album. He also works regularly with Angela Gheorghiu. He has written music for television, including the title theme for the late Desmond Wilcox's award winning documentary series 'The Visit.'
He has received many commissions, including large scale children's choral pieces, having regular performances at major venues such as the Royal Albert Hall. ()
Andrew Keener (b.23/3/54) began as an independent classical recording producer in the early eighties, having studied at Barry Boys' Comprehensive School, in South Wales and the Faculty of Music at The University of Edinburgh (B.Mus, 1975).
After a short spell as a school music teacher (he ran screaming from the profession, thus avoiding much damage to himself and his charges), he worked at EMG Handmade Gramophones in London's Soho Square, where he supplemented his wages by concert reviewing for The Guardian, Musical Times and Strad, and writing record reviews and interviews for Gramophone and Hi-Fi News & Record Review. He mourns the passing of EMG, which was something of "a gentleman's record shop" ("can you send these records through the diplomatic bag?" was among the most frequent customer requests) as well as an education in matters of the recording catalogue, proof-reading (EMG's own house magazine) and dealing with people.
It was also while working here that he became known to the great and the good of the recording industry, among them Ted Perry (about to form Hyperion Records), Quita Chavez (then of Phonogram), Robert Layton, John Lade (of BBC Record Review) and Simon Foster who, as manager of Classics for Pleasure, shared Keener's obsession with vinyl. Thanks to these and others, Keener was let loose on sessions which, as a former observer of such occasions, he felt would be easy. Wrong. His first sessions were for a trusting Ted Perry and, in terms of diplomacy, timing and authority, they left much to be desired. "Never mind", said Perry as he led a tearful Keener away from the session, "we'll make lots more records together".
This faith led to others engaging Keener. His first orchestral recordings were for Classics For Pleasure and Hyperion, followed by work for RCA, ASV, Hyperion and EMI.
One of the joys of being an independent producer is that artists with whom that producer 'clicks' will generally keep the relationship intact, as labels and contracts come and go. As a producer, Keener is more musical enabler than technowizard - he is lucky to work in collaboration with first-rate recording engineers. Relating to musicians, to the way they interact with each other, is a source of unending fascination for him.
As a mere fortieth-rate cellist and pianist himself, Keener relishes the vicarious contact with fine players. Reading and walking take the strain. For music, the 'real thing' (i.e. concerts) still seems to Keener as more relevant than performances captured on plastic. But the fascination with the 'animal' that is recording, its paradoxical disciplines and freedoms, has not faded over some 500 recordings he has produced so far. It was thanks to Simon Perry at Hyperion that the working partnership of Andrew and Simon (Eadon) came into being. They both share an impish sense of fun, love of music and passion for recording and realising it convincingly for reproduction in the home or on the move. ( www.akeener.fsnet.co.uk)
Danish-born Morten Winding came to Decca in 1973. A former Copenhagen Boys Chorister and Danish Radio Choir member, he speaks English, German, French, Italian Swedish, Norwegian and, of course, Danish. He is currently learning Russian. As a Decca producer he was initially responsible for second exploitation and compilation albums. Morten established the highest standards in the analogue-to-digital re-mastering (ADRM) programme of Decca's priceless master tapes. The crowning achievement was the painstaking transfer of Solti's legendary "Ring". This was in addition to international session supervision - some 60 CDs for L'Oiseau-Lyre mostly with The Academy of Ancient Music directed by Christopher Hogwood, The Consort of Music directed by Anthony Rooley and the Medieval Ensemble of London. For Decca he was closely associated with Die Entartete Musik series - 17 projects of which 9 were operas. Morten has worked with most of today's top singers and orchestras. Favourite CDs include his choral recordings of the choirs of Trinity College Cambridge, Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Westminster Cathedral, Worcester Cathedral and the Copenhagen Boys Choir. Morten is not only a vocal specialist. His output includes a vast amount of Symphonic, Chamber and Instrumental music. Among the 400 CDs he has produced since coming to England 2 have been recognised with Grammy Awards, 10 with Grammy nominations and many more with countless other prizes. ()
Will Brown was chosen for the highly regarded Tonmeister Course at Surrey University where he graduated in 2004. He first came into contact with Abbas Records while on his placement year at Floating Earth Ltd. In 2002/3. (Floating Earth kindly housed Abbas Recording Equipment free of charge for seven years until our move to Dorset in August 2004) Will plays bassoon and guitar and enjoys wind-surfing in rare spare-time moments. He is also restoring a VW Camper Van. Calm under pressure and with a good sense of humour, he is a positive asset to any recording project.
We are happy to discuss any aspects of recording and post-production. There follows a rate card and equipment available for hire.