More on Hatto

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Ralph
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More on Hatto

Post by Ralph » Mon Feb 26, 2007 11:54 am

From The New York Times:

February 26, 2007
Op-Ed Contributor
Shoot the Piano Player
By DENIS DUTTON

Christchurch, New Zealand

IT seemed almost too good to be true, and in the end it was. A conscientious pianist who had enjoyed an active if undistinguished career in London falls ill and retreats to a small town. Here she undertakes a project to record virtually the entire standard classical repertoire. Her recordings, CDs made when she was in her late 60s and 70s, are staggering, showing a masterful technique, a preternatural ability to adapt to different styles and a depth of musical insight hardly seen elsewhere.

Born in 1928, the pianist, Joyce Hatto, was the daughter of a music-loving London antiques dealer. As a teenager, she said, she kept practicing during the Blitz, hiding under the piano when the bombs were falling. She claimed later to have known the composers Ralph Vaughn Williams, Benjamin Britten and Carl Orff, to have studied Chopin with the French virtuoso Alfred Cortot and taken advice from the pianist Clara Haskil. She was Arnold Bax’s favored interpreter for his “Symphonic Variations.”

Ms. Hatto made recordings from the 1950s until 1970 — some Mozart and Rachmaninoff — but tending toward light-music potboilers: Hubert Bath’s “Cornish Rhapsody” and Richard Addinsell’s “Warsaw Concerto.” Her career was already in decline when she was given a cancer diagnosis in the early 1970s. She retired to a village near Cambridge with her husband, a recording engineer named William Barrington-Coupe, and a fine old Steinway that Rachmaninoff himself had used for prewar recitals in Britain.

Then came one of the strangest turns in the history of classical music. Starting in 1989, Joyce Hatto began recording CDs for a small record label run by her husband. She began with Liszt, went back to cover Bach and all of the Mozart sonatas and continued with a complete Beethoven sonata set. Then on to Schubert and Schumann, Chopin and more Liszt. She played Messiaen. Her Prokofiev sonatas (all nine) were tossed off with incredible virtuosity. In total she recorded more than 120 CDs — including many of the most difficult piano pieces ever written, played with breathtaking speed and accuracy.

Intriguingly, she gave to the music a developed although oddly malleable personality. She could do Schubert in one style, and then Prokofiev almost as though she was a new person playing a different piano — an astonishing, chameleon-like artistic ability.

We normally think of prodigies as children who exhibit some kind of miraculous ability in music. Joyce Hatto became something unheard of in the annals of classical music: a prodigy of old age — the very latest of late bloomers, “the greatest living pianist that almost no one has heard of,” as the critic Richard Dyer put it for himself and many other piano aficionados in The Boston Globe.

Little wonder that when she at last succumbed to her cancer last year at age 77 — recording Beethoven’s Sonata No. 26, “Les Adieux,” from a wheelchair in her last days — The Guardian called her “one of the greatest pianists Britain has ever produced.” Nice touch, that, playing Beethoven’s farewell sonata from a wheelchair. It went along with her image in the press as an indomitable spirit with a charming personality — always ready with a quote from Shakespeare, Arthur Rubinstein or Muhammad Ali. She also had a clear vision of the mission of musical interpreters, telling The Boston Globe: “Our job is to communicate the spiritual content of life as it is presented in the music. Nothing belongs to us; all you can do is pass it along.”

Now it has become brutally clear that “passing along” is exactly what she was up to. Earlier this month, a reader of the British music magazine Gramophone told one of its critics, Jeremy Distler, that something odd happened when he slid Ms. Hatto’s CD of Liszt’s “Transcendental Études” into his computer. His iTunes library, linked to a catalogue of about four million CDs, immediately identified it as a recording by the Hungarian pianist Laszlo Simon. Mr. Distler then listened to both recordings, and found them identical.

Since then, analysis by professional sound engineers and piano enthusiasts across the globe has pushed toward the same conclusion: the entire Joyce Hatto oeuvre recorded after 1989 appears to be stolen from the CDs of other pianists. It is a scandal unparalleled in the annals of classical music.

Ms. Hatto usually stole from younger artists who were not household names, although on the basis of the reviews she received, they richly deserved to be. Her recording of Chopin mazurkas seems to be by Eugen Indjic; the fiendishly difficult transcription of Chopin studies by Leopold Godowsky are actually recordings by Carlo Grante and Marc-André Hamelin; her Messiaen recordings were by Paul S. Kim; her version of the “Goldberg” Variations of Bach at least in part by Pi-Hsien Chen; the complete Ravel piano music by Roger Muraro. As reports come in, the rip-off list grows daily.

Her concerto recordings are even more brazen. The CD labels say they were made with the National Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, always conducted by one René Köhler. Mr. Barrington-Coupe told a reporter that this was his name for a pick-up orchestra of Polish émigrés whom, he said, came out from London to record at a venue he now refuses to reveal. He declined to further discuss the orchestra on the grounds that they were employed “below union rates.” No one has yet been able to find a single reference to this René Köhler outside of the Joyce Hatto recordings, nor have any members of the orchestra come forward to confirm Mr. Barrington-Coupe’s story.

In a rapturous review of Ms. Hatto’s playing of Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto, one critic said of the orchestra musicians: “It doesn’t matter who they are, their playing is tight and hot.” Actually, it did matter, since they have turned out to be the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, performing with the formidable Yefim Bronfman. Her version of the Brahms Second Concerto is Vladimir Ashkenazy’s, with the Vienna Philharmonic under Bernard Haitink laboring in the name of René Köhler and his non-union Poles.

Since the news broke, some have likened the exploits of Joyce Hatto to the notorious 20th-century Vermeer forger Han van Meegeren. But the differences are significant. Van Meegeren’s success was based as much on presentation — stories of old Italian families impoverished before World War II and needing quick cash — as on artistic plausibility. After he confessed, it was not hard for anyone to see that his dreadful fakes had more in common with each other than with any original Vermeers.

Joyce Hatto, however, was not a pianistic forger. In order to forge a piano performance, she would have had to record Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” herself and sell it to the world as a lost recording by, say, William Kapell. She was instead a plagiarist: she stole other pianists’ work and, with only a few electronic alterations, sold it as her own.

Although the critics who praised Van Meegerens’s “Vermeers” as masterpieces were in the end rightly humiliated, the same should not be true of those who praised Ms. Hatto’s recordings. They may have been fooled, but their opinions were not foolish, because the artists she ripped off played beautifully.

Yet the Joyce Hatto episode is a stern reminder of the importance of framing and background in criticism. Music isn’t just about sound; it is about achievement in a larger human sense. If you think an interpretation is by a 74-year-old pianist at the end of her life, it won’t sound quite the same to you as if you think it’s by a 24-year-old piano-competition winner who is just starting out. Beyond all the pretty notes, we want creative engagement and communication from music, we want music to be a bridge to another personality. Otherwise, we might as well feed Chopin scores into a computer.

This makes instrumental criticism a tricky business. I’m personally convinced that there is an authentic, objective maturity that I can hear in the later recordings of Rubinstein. This special quality of his is actually in the music, and is not just subjectively derived from seeing the wrinkles in the old man’s face. But the Joyce Hatto episode shows that our expectations, our knowledge of a back story, can subtly, or perhaps even crudely, affect our aesthetic response.

The greatest lesson for us all ought to be, however, that there are more fine young pianists out there than most of us realize. If it wasn’t Joyce Hatto, then who did perform those dazzlingly powerful Prokofiev sonatas? Having been so moved by hearing “her” Schubert on the radio, I’ve vowed to honor the real pianist by ordering the proper CD, as soon as I find out who it is. Backhanded credit to Joyce Hatto for having introduced us to some fine new talent.

Denis Dutton, who teaches aesthetics at the University of Canterbury, is the author of the forthcoming book “The Art Instinct.”
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Joe Barron
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Post by Joe Barron » Mon Feb 26, 2007 12:25 pm

Thanks, Ralph. I saw this article this morning and would have posted it ify you hadn't. I had not heard of this before.

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Post by GK » Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:53 pm

It would be interesting if someone had the time and resources to find reviews by the same critic of both the original recording and the Hatto version.

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Mon Feb 26, 2007 9:09 pm

GK wrote:It would be interesting if someone had the time and resources to find reviews by the same critic of both the original recording and the Hatto version.
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IcedNote
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Post by IcedNote » Tue Feb 27, 2007 5:54 pm

My friend just sent me that article. I'd never heard of her either! Amazing...in a bad way!

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Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Tue Feb 27, 2007 10:05 pm

I want to point out that several of Mr. Dutton's assertions are pretty cheap and unsubstantiated shots. He doesn't know whether Ms. Hatto was aware of her husband's actions.

John

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Post by pizza » Wed Feb 28, 2007 12:29 pm

CharmNewton wrote:I want to point out that several of Mr. Dutton's assertions are pretty cheap and unsubstantiated shots. He doesn't know whether Ms. Hatto was aware of her husband's actions.

John
John: I pointed out in another thread that she was quoted as having commented on some of the recordings. If she actually heard them, she had to know that it wasn't her playing.

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Post by JackC » Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:22 pm

I haven't posted for a long time, but was fascinated by this hoax. I agree with Pizza. She was no victim!!

Here is a link to a set of articles about this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyce_Hatto

Go down to the third from last link in the section called "external links". It is called "New Zealand radio feature with an intervew with Joyce Hatto 2006"

It is long interview, but in a couple of places, the inteviewer, who is basically worshiping her, discusses with her, and asks her about, specific recordings that are the subject of all the fuss. She does not deny that she made them. And even if someone were to argue that it is possble that she made recordings but never heard the actual CDs that were released, as Pizza said, she HAD to know that she didn't play in the concerto recordings attributed to her!!

So either the lady being interviewed on the phone isn't really Joyce Hatto (maybe her husband, in addition to be a total fraud, has Norman Bates tendencies as well), or, her sweet little voice notwithstanding, she was part of the fraud.

Bottom line, although the husband may have been the prime mover, (he apparently already had prior a crimminal conviction for tax fraud) is that the evidence indicates overwhelmingly that this was a massive fraud perperated by husband AND wife. They deserve whatever they get. While she is dead, her legacy and reputation, quite deservedly, will forever be that she was a fraud, not a good pianist.

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:02 pm

JackC wrote:I haven't posted for a long time, but was fascinated by this hoax. I agree with Pizza. She was no victim!!

Here is a link to a set of articles about this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyce_Hatto

Go down to the third from last link in the section called "external links". It is called "New Zealand radio feature with an intervew with Joyce Hatto 2006"

It is long interview, but in a couple of places, the inteviewer, who is basically worshiping her, discusses with her, and asks her about, specific recordings that are the subject of all the fuss. She does not deny that she made them. And even if someone were to argue that it is possble that she made recordings but never heard the actual CDs that were released, as Pizza said, she HAD to know that she didn't play in the concerto recordings attributed to her!!

So either the lady being interviewed on the phone isn't really Joyce Hatto (maybe her husband, in addition to be a total fraud, has Norman Bates tendencies as well), or, her sweet little voice notwithstanding, she was part of the fraud.

Bottom line, although the husband may have been the prime mover, (he apparently already had prior a crimminal conviction for tax fraud) is that the evidence indicates overwhelmingly that this was a massive fraud perperated by husband AND wife. They deserve whatever they get. While she is dead, her legacy and reputation, quite deservedly, will forever be that she was a fraud, not a good pianist.
*****

Good to see you back here, Jack. Hope all is well in Piuttsburgh.
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:00 pm

From The Sunday Times
March 04, 2007

Yes, I lied about Joyce. Now I’ll face the music
In his first interview the husband who made Joyce Hatto an international celebrity by faking her piano recordings tells Ann McFerran why he did it, and how he is coming to terms with being found out

William Barrington-Coupe slips a CD into a modest-looking machine and raises his index finger in the air. “There!” he says triumphantly after a minute or so. “Can you hear it?”

A sprightly 76-year-old in cavalry twills and tweed sports jacket, Bar-rington-Coupe isn’t referring to the magnificent rendition of Bach’s Gold-berg Variations that is now overwhelming the room. He is speaking of an almost inaudible (to me, anyway) sound that, when I do finally hear it, is like a sigh or a little cry.

It was these sounds, which Bar-rington-Coupe says were gasps of pain emitted by his late wife the virtuoso pianist Joyce Hatto in the throes of a long and painful cancer, that set her husband and record producer on a trail of deception and fraud that has rocked the world of classical music.

Ironically, Hattogate, as it’s been dubbed, began to unravel with Joyce Hatto’s death eight months ago, when she was eulogised in the obituaries as “a national treasure” and “one of the greatest pianists ever”. An American fan inadvertently became the whistle-blower while he was transferring Hatto’s rendition of Liszt’s Transcendental Studies to his iPod. He was startled to see the screen crediting the performer not as Hatto but as the Hungarian pianist Laszlo Simon, who recorded the studies in l987.

More detective work followed and a BBC sound engineer tested sample tracks of Hatto and Simon and discovered two were the exactly the same and another had been doctored.

Was Joyce Hatto’s work all a brilliant hoax engineered by her scheming fraudster husband Barrington-Coupe? Did Joyce Hatto exist at all? Have the classical music critics been exposed as a bunch of prize chumps?

At first Barrington-Coupe denied any tampering or wrongdoing with his wife’s CDs. Then last weekend he wrote to Robert von Bahr, the chief executive of BIS, Laszlo Simon’s Swedish record label, admitting: “I have acted stupidly, dishonestly and unlawfully.”

Sitting in what was once Joyce’s music room and latterly her bedroom, Barrington-Coupe looks an unlikely conman, even though he has a history of fraud, having been jailed for tax evasion in the 1960s. With his wild grey hair and mournful tone, he exudes the air of a retired music master who doesn’t quite know what to do with himself since the death of his beloved wife.

Hatto’s Steinway piano, which once belonged to Rachmaninov, dominates the room. On the floor lie piles of her CDs, spilling out of boxes, still in their wrappers. On every surface sits something of Joyce’s: her concert programmes, her photographs, her letters and papers, a pile of her gloves ready for the charity shop.

On the piano stool sits a box containing Joyce’s ashes. Her grieving husband still can’t decide what to do with them. The couple had few friends, he says, because they needed only each other. Barrington-Coupe seems not so much lonely as adrift, the purpose of his life, caring for his wife, ebbing into deep but distant memories.

I remove the ashes from the piano stool to sit on the least cluttered surface of the room. Always a perfectionist, Joyce Hatto sat here at the Steinway trying to achieve two notes in a piano transcription of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony that sound, says Bar-rington-Coupe, like a cuckoo. “Several hours passed. I’d been shopping and made tea, and I said to her, ‘How much longer are you going to be play-ing?’ On her 49th go she said, ‘That’s what I’ve been wanting.’ And the birds in the garden all began to sing!” Around this time, he says, their recording sessions were marred by her gasps of pain. “I’d say to her, ‘I’m sorry, you were breathing very heavily; we have to do that again.’ She’d get very irritated because she was in a lot of pain. Sometimes I’d say we’d had a bit of technical trouble.”

Soon Barrington-Coupe began dealing with the “technical trouble” himself by editing noisy “ambience” between the movements his wife was playing. Editing is one thing; what he describes as “taking portions of ready-made recorded material” is another: most would call it theft.

Barrington-Coupe blinks back tears behind his glasses and raises his hands as though I were pointing a gun at him. “It wasn’t something I liked doing,” he says finally. “But Joyce’s music was everything to her — and to me, too.”

Joyce Hatto was born on September 5, 1928, in Maida Vale, the only child of a master baker who loved antiques and the piano. He taught his daughter to play before she could read.

According to Barrington-Coupe, Joyce’s love for the piano was crucial to her emotional wellbeing, as the rest of her life was not particularly happy. Her mother could be cruel, her father, who was something of an obsessive, felt outshone and ignored his prodigy daughter. Leaving school, Joyce went to an interview with the Royal Academy of Music but felt uncomfortable when she was told that rather than becoming a virtuoso pianist it would be much better if she learnt how to cook a roast dinner.

Meanwhile, after a stint in the army in the early 1950s for national service, Barrington-Coupe planned to enter civvy street as a concert agent and advertised for clients in The Daily Telegraph. Joyce answered his ad.

“She was seen by a friend of mine who said she was exceptional. I rang and got her mother, who asked me if I was Joyce’s boyfriend. Eventually Joyce rang back. We talked for an hour, about Shakespeare and music. By the time I put the phone down I couldn’t wait to hear her voice again.”

The next day Barrington-Coupe wrote to Joyce enclosing a photograph of himself. “I said it just so happens I have some leave — I hadn’t! — and two tickets to see Henry V. Or was it Hamlet? Anyway, it was with Richard Burton, at the Old Vic. I said I could meet you under the clock at Waterloo station.”

She didn’t reply but she came to meet him. “There was no great running into arms or passionate kissing,” reports Barrington-Coupe. “But it was very companionable and we began to care for each other deeply.” It was l951; they married in l956. “She said, ‘I couldn’t think of marrying anyone but you’.”

In the 1960s and early 1970s Joyce Hatto played everywhere and loved an audience. The couple wanted to have children but Joyce miscarried twice. The second time it was discovered she had cancerous fibroids so she had a hysterectomy.

Barrington-Coupe had begun recording her work on cassettes. He also sold everything from cassette players to transistor radios but omitted to pay the purchase tax. In l966 he was sent to prison for a year for tax evasion. “The judge said some rather harsh things,” says Barrington-Coupe, adding dismissively: “But it wasn’t too bad; the army was good for me in that way.”

After eight months in prison he was released, but Joyce’s health began to deteriorate dramatically. By this time she’d taken to wearing Jean Muir kaftans to cover up her protruding stomach. “She could look nine months pregnant,” says Barrington-Coupe.

After a critic derided her as a “Sit-wellian figure”, Hatto vowed never to appear in public again. Her pain intensified and the recording became harder. Barrington-Coupe found himself making more excuses as to why he needed to record again a particular passage.

Then he read an article in a music magazine describing how Elisabeth Schwarzkopf had covered the high notes for Kirsten Flagstad in the celebrated EMI recording of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. Immediately he knew he’d found a solution.

He thinks he began editing “ambi-ence” in the late 1980s. Not long afterwards he began editing in small bits of others’ recordings whose sound and style were similar to his wife’s.

“Everyone will say it’s impossible but I did it on a MiniDisc,” he says. “It has a wonderful capability; you can edit from one frame to another. Technically I was proud of what I did although I’m not proud of anything else. Maybe I began living a lie, and maybe that’s why I’m being punished now.”

By the mid1990s Barrington-Coupe was presenting other people’s work as his wife’s as a matter of course. “It’s the old thing,” he says. “If you’ve killed someone once it’s easy to do it the second time, so in the end you kill ceaselessly. It wasn’t easy but God gave me a good ear.”

Ask Barrington-Coupe exactly what he has edited, and from whom he has plagiarised and when, and he responds with the somewhat implausible explanation that the more he reveals the more people will hound him. “Whatever I do, it won’t be enough. They want to see me kill myself because they want to believe that I can’t live with myself.”

His reasons for his deception were simple: “Joyce’s life was hell. She was in such pain and it was so humiliating for her for such a long time.”

At the time of her death Barrington-Coupe had recorded more than l00 of Joyce’s CDs, but had made little if any money. Today his own life has turned into something of a nightmare. The blogosphere has gone crazy with accusations and theories about the Hattogate fraud.

“The most terrible things are said about me and I get the most disgusting e-mails,” says Barrington-Coupe. “What I’ve done is wrong and I regret causing so much unhappiness. But I don’t quite understand why so many people all over the world are so interested. I get requests for interviews from everywhere, even Beijing,” he says. “Beijing!”

Back in Royston, Hertfordshire, Wil-liam Barrington-Coupe is escorting me to the railway station when we meet two neighbours. The man bids him good day; the woman pointedly ignores him. “Typical!” he bristles.

At one time Barrington-Coupe says he contemplated going into the local church. He doesn’t strike me as a man of God. But nor does he strike me as a villain. Before I leave, I ask him what he would do if he were faced with the same situation again.

He looks puzzled. The next day he phones to say he’s been thinking about this until 3am. “Yes, I would do it again,” he says. “Because it made Joyce so happy. But this time I wouldn’t publish the CDs.”

Too late, too late, for such a solution. He has confessed his crime and now has to face the music.

Musical plagiarism has a long history

George Frideric Handel famously reworked musical material throughout his life, drawing not only on his own works but on those of lesser contemporaries. Some of his reworkings from other composers were noticed during his lifetime: allegations of plagiarism in Handel’s music have been voiced from the early 19th century onwards.

The authorship of Mozart’s iconic Requiem was the subject of skulduggery. Its commission was famously shrouded in secrecy, which enabled Mozart’s patron, Count Franz von Walsegg-Stuppach, subsequently to copy the score out in his own hand and claim its authorship himself. Mozart died before the work was completed.

Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s premature death in 1736 led to a number of works by minor contemporaries being deliberately misattributed to him in order to cash in on the romanticised myth of a composer who had died so young. It emerged later that only approximately one-tenth of the music bearing the name “Pergolesi” is genuine.
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JackC
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Post by JackC » Tue Mar 06, 2007 4:42 pm

I find the new Times article to be worse than pathetic. For the most part, it simply repeats the description of the fraud that Joyce Hatto's husband has now offered. It absolves her of any knowlegde of or responsibility for the fraud and paints him in the most sympathetic light possible -- ''I did it for my unknowing, long-suffering, cancer-striken wife that I loved so much and whose painful groans kept interrupting her divine, glorious playing". Yeah right!! :roll:

Having bought one totally fabricated story before the fraud became known, much of the press seems intent on repeating another fabricated story, this time about the fraud itself - apparently because people want/need to believe that sweet talking, sweet looking , long suffering Joyce wasn't part of the fraud.


Yet, the fact is that there is a MOUNTAIN of evidence that Joyce Hatto herself was a full partner in this fraud. She personally was interveiwed by critics, on both sides of the Atlantic, at length about "her" recordings on several occassions after they achieved "cult" status in the last several years. At no time did she reveal that they were not hers.

Is it really plausible that she never heard the actually recordings she was being asked about??? - or, if she did, that she couldn't tell that they were not hers?? Is it at all plausible that she was never asked about the fake concerto recordings or never saw the CDs of those recordings that were issued??

Apparently the press would rather repeat some sentimental baloney by an admitted fraud simply because it makes more interesting/emotional reading than report that TWO frauds managed to sell the same sentimental BS to the critical, musical community.

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