Computer Programme Debunks Pianist

English pianist Joyce Hatto had risen to some prominence over the year preceding her death. Whilst she never played in public, recordings of her performances of works by artists such as Liszt, Schubert, Rachmaninov and Dukas, produced by her husband from a private studio, had her hailed as an unknown genius.

However, an iTunes programme that compares recordings with an online database has thrown her abilities into doubt.

A critic for the classical music magazine Gramophone was surprised to find that, when he loaded into his computer a recording of the pianist playing Liszt, the programme identified it as the work of the pianist Laszlo Simon on BIS Records. The critic tried again, this time using a disc of a Hatto recital of Rachmaninov. Once more, his computer listed it as the work of another pianist, Yemif Bronfman.

The critic was aware of certain rumours doubting Hatto's performances which had been floating around the internet, so he sent the recordings to audio expert Andrew Rose, who confirmed that the soundwaves of the Hatto recitals were identical to the ones of the other pianists.

Gramophone reports how Rose produced a section on his website that allows listeners to compare the pattern of soundwaves of Hatto's recordings with other pianists. When Rose went on to compare the Rachmaninov recital with the Bronfman recording, they also matched.
(Thanks, Sophie.)

UPDATE (28/2/07): Gramophone magazine reports that Hatto's husband has admitted to the scam.
(Thanks, Floormaster Squeeze.)

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Posted on Tue Feb 20, 2007


For a detailed analysis on the hoax, go to the Pristine Audio website - they've got samples for comparison:
Posted by Roland Volz  on  Tue Feb 20, 2007  at  01:11 PM
When will it end?? Next thing you know, artists will lip synch their songs on TV and video. Isn't there anyone out there with the uncompromising ethics of Milli Vanilli?
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Wed Feb 21, 2007  at  11:07 AM
It's not true that she never played in public, she did concertize at one time but she just stoppped performing in the early seventies due to illness. There are recordings that exist before that time that are not in doubt. It is the recording she supposedly made after retiring from the stage that are in contention.
Posted by Foster  on  Thu Feb 22, 2007  at  10:10 AM
It's so hard to get away with anything these days. My friend, a high school teacher, googles phrases from student's papers to catch plagiarism. The forged Bush military documents were debunked almost immediately. Anything a public figure says is broadcast around the blogsphere in minutes.
I hadn't thought of comparing music digitally, but I'll bet this won't be last time something like this happens.
Posted by gcason  on  Thu Feb 22, 2007  at  10:41 AM
Hey Foster, did you heara her before her illness? Was she any good? If so, it would seem the hoax was by the husband trying to cash in on the dead wife. If so, I'm glad he got caught.
Posted by Christopher Cole  on  Sat Feb 24, 2007  at  06:31 PM
The husband confesses to the scam:
Posted by Floormaster Squeeze  on  Tue Feb 27, 2007  at  09:59 AM
Regardless of the confession, her husband's record company still lists her products on their webgsite.
Posted by Don  on  Wed Feb 28, 2007  at  12:22 PM
I read somewhere that he really had recorded his wife playing those pieces, but you could hear her crying out and moaning in pain on those recordings (from the cancer, obviously) and he couldn't bear to release those, so released the fakes instead.
Posted by Nona  on  Tue Mar 06, 2007  at  05:42 AM
Nona comment is correct. The Hatto's lived locally and I've read all the details. Her husband didn't issue complete fakes, he simply covered up her cries of pain with identical sections from other performers. I really don't believe he ever wanted to do any more than support his wife as she suffered a terminal disease. That is also why she stopped public performances.
Posted by Tim Brunton  on  Sat Mar 10, 2007  at  08:56 AM
Joyce Hatto has played throughout Europe, in a great number of leading music centres in other parts of the world, as well as appearing in over a hundred international music festivals. Her great interest in the 19th Century Romantics has lead her to revive and explore many facets of the piano repertoire. She gained early recognition as an exceptional Chopin player and her Chopin recitals in London and other leading European centres have been to capacity audiences. Stefania Niekrasz, who instituted the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw and founded the Chopin School of Music, has written,
Posted by Furniture Collections  on  Thu May 31, 2007  at  11:01 AM
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