The Joyce Hatto Hoax
Feb 16, 2007 at 11:16 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 61

Bunnyears

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Breaking News at the Gramophone website: there is an ongoing examination of Joyce Hatto's recordings, and they have reached the conclusion that her recordings are not by her, but by many different pianists! Apparently her husband, who is supposed to have made the recordings, has been using recordings by artists as Yefim Bronfman, Carlo Grante and Simon Laszlo. Gramophone has gone on to say that Hatto has been a mysterious figure since no one had ever heard of her. These recordings were routinely reviewed an given very high marks at ClassicsToday and other classical music sites. I know that my curiousity was piqued when I read about the recordings and only the difficulty involved with obtaining them prevented me from dropping a pretty penny on them. David Hurwitz was one of her fans, so now I'm wondering what ClassicsToday will do with this story.

joycehatto.htm_txt_Joyce_Hatto_2.gif
 
Feb 17, 2007 at 4:12 AM Post #2 of 61

mbhaub

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Holy Smokes!!!!!! Words cannot convey my disgust if this is true. I read the DH review and was looking forward to ordering the Ravel set, being very fond of that composer's piano music. Now, there are basically unknown pianists who have astonished us with dazzling playing that boggles the mind we don't know more about them (Abby Simon is one such. Orion Weiss another.) But for someone to parade this sham is just terrible!

This sort of thing used to happen all the time in the LP era where the authenticity of the performers was always in doubt. Murray Hill, anyone? Thanks for pointing out this link. You saved me lots of $$$.
 
Feb 17, 2007 at 6:56 AM Post #3 of 61

zotjen

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I do find one thing strange. I don't listen to too many instrumentalists, especially different recordings of the same works. However, if each recording was actually by a different artist, wouldn't there be a somewhat different style to each that someone would have picked up on?
 
Feb 17, 2007 at 7:39 AM Post #4 of 61

Tyson

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bunnyears /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Breaking News at the Gramophone website: there is an ongoing examination of Joyce Hatto's recordings, and they have reached the conclusion that her recordings are not by her, but by many different pianists! Apparently her husband, who is supposed to have made the recordings, has been using recordings by artists as Yefim Bronfman, Carlo Grante and Simon Laszlo. Gramophone has gone on to say that Hatto has been a mysterious figure since no one had ever heard of her. These recordings were routinely reviewed an given very high marks at ClassicsToday and other classical music sites. I know that my curiousity was piqued when I read about the recordings and only the difficulty involved with obtaining them prevented me from dropping a pretty penny on them. David Hurwitz was one of her fans, so now I'm wondering what ClassicsToday will do with this story.

joycehatto.htm_txt_Joyce_Hatto_2.gif



D@mn.
 
Feb 17, 2007 at 7:56 AM Post #5 of 61

seacard

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What an incredible story and I can't wait for the fallout. I don't know how much money her husband and family have made from this fraud, but hopefully the artists whose recordings were used will be compensated.

I would also be very curious to see how "her" recordings were rated compared to the recordings that she actually used. Classicstoday, for example, gave the Liszt Etudes a 10/9, saying it's the best rendition since Arrau. While they haven't reviewed the Simon, I think it's safe to say that they would not have said the same thing about his original recording.

I believe Distler is Classicstoday's reviewer of solo piano music, not Hurwitz. Not that this matters much...
 
Feb 17, 2007 at 1:46 PM Post #6 of 61

Riordan

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i'd just like to point out that this doesn't appear to be a hoax (elaborate practical joke or prank), but fraud - the title is a bit misleading.
 
Feb 17, 2007 at 7:43 PM Post #7 of 61

Bunnyears

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Seacard,

You are correct about Jed Distler being the reviewer of solo music, so I suppose that I have to apologize to David Hurwitz as he was not the author of the Hatto reviews. However, DH as the editor in chief of C/T does have to share some of the responsibility for publishing those reviews. Apparently, even at the time of the publication of the reviews in ClassicsToday there were already many voices raised about the authenticity of these recordings although there was no definitive proof then.

Mb,

I was extremely interested in the Mozart and Ravel cds and was so close to buying them! The only silver lining to this cloud is the fact that now some long neglected pianists will get a little attention. Let's not forget that in order for a cd to be copied, something has to exist that can be copied. Who knows, perhaps they will be able to identify all of the original artists and then we can purchase those cds. Meanwhile, we can all sit back and watch where the pieces of this fall. I suspect that Jed Distler, Gramophone and especially Musicweb will all have a lot of egg on their face. As I don't subscribe to Fanfare, I'm unaware if the "Hatto cds" were reviewed there as well.

Riordan,

I won't start discussing semantics at this point over the use of the word hoax versus fraud, but in American dictionaries hoax is usually defined first as an act or thing intended to deceive or defraud. Clearly, these records were both a hoax and a scam. I suppose Joyce Hatto will now be remembered as the ultimate classical music ringer.

Re: Musicweb -

MusicWeb, which was actually in partnership with the label, Concert Artists which manufactured and sold the Hatto cds, is no longer offering them through their website. Now I have been looking into how one becomes a reviewer for Musicweb, and apparently all you have to do is state your desire to write reviews. The main reviewer of those cds was Christopher Howell, and he seems to be the main reviewer quoted at the Concert Artists website. Many questions are being asked about all of the recordings from that label now!

Re: Concert Artists/Fidelio

Apparently suspicions were originally raised when some buyers of their cds noted that they were not original cds but rather cd-roms that they were receiving. Don't ask why they couldn't come up with the machinery to actually make a cd with a printed information side, but they couldn't.

Edit: Apparently the NY Times has picked up this story today. You can read their article here.
 
Feb 17, 2007 at 8:49 PM Post #8 of 61

bigshot

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Quote:

Originally Posted by zotjen /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I do find one thing strange. I don't listen to too many instrumentalists, especially different recordings of the same works. However, if each recording was actually by a different artist, wouldn't there be a somewhat different style to each that someone would have picked up on?


You'd think so, wouldn't you? It just proves that most reviewers talk out of their posterior.

See ya
Steve
 
Feb 17, 2007 at 9:22 PM Post #10 of 61

seacard

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bigshot /img/forum/go_quote.gif
You'd think so, wouldn't you? It just proves that most reviewers talk out of their posterior.

See ya
Steve



I don't know if we blame critics for this. I think what this shows is that the quality of musicians is so high today that you can pretty much pick up any random recording and get a perfect rendition of a piece. And there are so many recordings out there that it's impossible to hear them all or compare them all.

What about the orchestra that she "played with" for the concertos? You would think that somebody would notice that the orchestra never played with her, if it even exists.
 
Feb 17, 2007 at 9:26 PM Post #11 of 61

Bunnyears

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bigshot /img/forum/go_quote.gif
You'd think so, wouldn't you? It just proves that most reviewers talk out of their posterior.

See ya
Steve



Actually, from what I've read, the first criticisms of her work were based on bloggers comments that they found it impossible that the same pianist could have made two of the recordings. According to Gramophone:

...there were persistent rumours on the internet as to the true origins of the recordings. How, wondered the doubters, could one woman – especially one who had battled cancer for many years – have mastered a range of repertoire and recorded a catalogue that arguably makes her more prolific than even the Richters and the Ashkenazys.

More from the NYTimes:

... this month, Jed Distler, a composer and music critic who was among Ms. Hatto’s admirers, contacted Mr. Inverne with a strange story. When he put the Hatto CD of the Liszt études into his computer, Mr. Inverne recounted, “his iTunes player identified the disc as, yes, the Liszts, but not a Hatto recording.” Instead, it identified Mr. Simon as the performer.

Btw, the NYTimes makes clear that the record label Concert Artists is owned by Mrs. Hatto's widower:

William Barrington-Coupe, Ms. Hatto’s husband and the owner of Concert Artist, which issued more than 100 of her recordings (available online at concertartistrecordings.com), is perhaps the only person who can clear up the mystery. But he could not be reached at his home near Cambridge on Friday and did not respond to telephone or e-mail messages.

Gramophone is going to have an in-depth article in April. I'm certainly going to get a copy of that issue!

From the Home page of MusicWeb:

HATTOgate
Musicweb has withdrawn Concert Artist recordings from sale following recent revelations that at least some of the recordings purporting to be by Joyce Hatto were actually pirated from other existing recordings. The evidence for this does seem incontrovertible.......
Masterpieces Or Fakes? The Joyce Hatto Scandal - Gramophone
Joyce Hatto - The Ultimate Recording Hoax - Part 1 - Pristine Recordings
Purely coincidental? Joyce Hatto and Chopin's Mazurkas AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music
 
Feb 17, 2007 at 9:59 PM Post #12 of 61

bigshot

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Quote:

Originally Posted by seacard /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I don't know if we blame critics for this. I think what this shows is that the quality of musicians is so high today that you can pretty much pick up any random recording and get a perfect rendition of a piece.


That isn't a proof of perfection, it's evidence that performers with an individual style and unique point of view are a thing of the past.

See ya
Steve
 
Feb 17, 2007 at 10:13 PM Post #13 of 61

bigshot

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The interesting thing is that the recording that came up in the IMDB database as being by a different performer had been time shifted. IMDB identifies recording by the timing of the tracks. There is no way that it would come up like that... unless someone deliberatately misentered the info that way to leak a clue. There are rumors of "gifts" being given by Concert Artists to classical music reviewers to encourage good reviews... Perhaps someone thought his "gift" should have been larger. I suspect that there's a lot more to this story yet to be told.

The folks on rec.music.classical.recordings have been all over this. They've positively identified four recordings as frauds and they are setting up an organized system for finding more. I was chatting with one of the guys doing the legwork to track all the frauds down in my office today, and he said that they are also tracking down reviews of Hatto's forgeries and comparing them to the reviews of the legitimate release of the same recording by the same reviewers. You can bet that there are going to be plenty of authorities in classical music journalism that are going to be eating crow soon.

See ya
Steve
 
Feb 18, 2007 at 1:07 AM Post #14 of 61

AlanY

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bigshot /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The interesting thing is that the recording that came up in the IMDB database as being by a different performer had been time shifted. IMDB identifies recording by the timing of the tracks. There is no way that it would come up like that...


My guess is that the playback software the guy was using uses a service like MusicBrainz which identifies recordings by their sound signature, rather than by their timing, like IMDB does.
 
Feb 18, 2007 at 9:12 AM Post #15 of 61

bigshot

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They added reverb to the recordings too to disguise them.

The BBC message boards are reporting that the church in Croyden listed as the recording site for many of Hatto's recordings doesn't exist. Whoops!

See ya
Steve
 

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