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The remarkable career of the late Joyce Hattoa cautionary tale involving internet discussion groups


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#1 bart

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 03:00 PM

I know this is a ballet discussion board. But The New Yorker has an article by Mark Singer, "Fantasia For Piano: Joyce Hatto's incredible career" (Sept. 17) in which another kind of discussion board -- one devoted to piano recordings, and pianists -- had a big and rather embarassing role.

This is the story of a marvellous hoax in which cd's by a newly discovered, but rather elderly, pianist were not quite what they were alleged to be.

It's also a cautionary tale about how careers that blossom on the internet can also come crashing down when those discussions go a little too far.

The New Yorker's website also has a 15-minute audio interview with Singer, including bits of a radio interview Hatto once gave and some examples what appeared to be her playing. Singer is also the author of Character Studies: Encounters with the Curiously Obsesssed which I intend to locate in our library system.

http://www.newyorker.com/

#2 papeetepatrick

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 04:50 PM

That was one of the most incredible things I ever read. Wow. These people make Leona Helmsley's stained-glass windows of the Helmsley real estate on their mausoleum and their dog millionaire look amateurish and modest.

Were other musicians or anybody else hearing about Ms. Hatto during the last few years? I have never joined one of the piano discussion groups, although I did sometimes go to a classical music chat when I had aol, but somehow I just didn't hear anything about this. Some of it was pretty funny, especially the Marlene Dietrich insertion. That will often work wonders, as when during the Clinton impeachment hearings, one of the senators compared Marlene Dietrich in 'Witness for the Prosecution' to Monica Lewinsky--and Tom Olliphant couldn't resist pointing it out maliciously. Some of the denials by Barry were worthy of some recent Congressional hearings in which FBI testimony as to what kind of intelligence was said in no uncertain terms, only for there to be a firm denial of the witness having meant the NSA only, etc.

Thanks so much, bart! I would have continued on without having found out about these magnificent new recordings of genius!

#3 scherzo

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 02:42 AM

Yes, there was a big brouhaha here in England a while ago, which was especially amusing to me as I had only a few weeks earlier heard a radio programme comparing recordings of certain piano works, and the presenter picked Hatto's as superior to all others (including, I think, some of the 'borrowed' recordings).

#4 dirac

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 10:09 AM

Yes, there was a big brouhaha here in England a while ago, which was especially amusing to me as I had only a few weeks earlier heard a radio programme comparing recordings of certain piano works, and the presenter picked Hatto's as superior to all others (including, I think, some of the 'borrowed' recordings).


Yes, the scandal was extensively covered, as I recall - there were at least two articles in the NY Times about it at the time in addition to coverage in the UK press (here's a link to comment from the NYT dating from February of this year). I thought of posting a topic in Other Arts but never got round to it, so thank you, bart, for repairing the omission.


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.


Incredible in every sense, yes.

#5 bart

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 10:14 AM

I'm especially intrigued by what this story reveals about the role that internet discussion boards can play in these matters. The line between fantasy and reality is so easily fudged. Kind of scarey? :)

#6 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 10:50 AM

except for the fact that i feel like it makes me sound stuffy, i would add that it's an object lesson regarding responsibility in some respects, don't you think?

#7 dirac

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 11:01 AM

Me, I think it’s an object lesson regarding blatant and egregious fraud. It’s interesting, of course, to have more background into the motives of the thieving pair. (Link to The New Yorker article.)

The first insistent questions about Hatto came in the summer and fall of 2005, in Internet postings by Peter Lemken, a German conservatory graduate turned artist-manager turned business consultant. How was it that anyone, much less an infirm septuagenarian, could record such a splendid and voluminous body of work? Also, Lemken asked pointedly, who was René Köhler and what was the National Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra—the conductor and ensemble featured on several Hatto concertos (Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev)?

A colorful capsule biography of Köhler (source: Barry) eventually appeared online—a Polish-French-German Jew, a survivor of Treblinka with the bad luck to wind up for twenty-five years in the Soviet Gulag—but there was no mention of him or the orchestra in any reference book. If Köhler and the National Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra were phantoms, then what about Hatto?




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