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Our Favorite Engineers (A Continuing Series)

Kenneth Wilkinson


KENNETH WILKINSON is one of our favorite engineers. Click on the link to find our in-stock Kenneth Wilkinson engineered albums, along with plenty of our famous commentaries.
Recordings made in Kingsway Hall


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THE WALTER LEGGE AWARD

This award is given for extraordinary contribution to the field of recording classical music. The recipient of the 2003 WALTER LEGGE Award is recording engineer, KENNETH WILKINSON.

For much of his illustrious, half century career, recording engineer KENNETH WILKINSON labored in anonymity. It was only toward the end of the LP era that labels began to identify production teams, and even then in small type. However, his reputation among musicians, colleagues and audiophiles was supreme. At Decca/London during its golden age from the 1950s to his retirement in 1980, "Wilkie" always headed The A Team.

He was responsible for thousands of major orchestral recordings at Decca/London, also many operas and Britten's "War Requiem" (of which he was especially proud). Still, he found time to do more, such as the highly-prized orchestral series for Reader's Digest, much of the Lyrita catalogue, and the path breaking series of film scores with Charles Gerhardt for RCA.

The most remarkable sonic aspect of a Wilkinson orchestral recording is its rich balance, which gives full measure to the bottom octaves, and a palpable sense of the superior acoustics of the venues he favored, among them London's Walthamstow Assembly Hall and The Kingsway Hall of revered memory. And he was no purist regarding microphone technique. He inherited the Decca "tree" technique from Roy Wallace and over time augmented its natural three-omni directional pickup with "outriggers" and accent microphones which he mixed in judiciously to produce a flawless (one might say "idealized") balance for playback in the home. Those who saw him work say that his hands were in constant motion, playing the mixing board like a musical instrument.

KENNETH WILKINSON'S well-earned retirement happened prior to the sale of Decca/London and the subsequent dismantling of its storied production facility. Happily, his work lives on in performances by all the great Decca artists (and more). His legacy will long stand as an inspiration for all who aspire to the recording arts.

-- An appreciation by Tam Henderson, Reference Recordings, with thanks to Tony Faulkner and Michael Gray.

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