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Saturday, February 17, 2007

And Now, a Scandal Outside the Church

Yesterday a colleague at work tipped me off to a fine, fine scandal breaking in an area where it is relatively unknown, classical music. The late Joyce Hatto of England seemed to be a prolific recording artist and those recordings, produced by her husband on his own label, met with consistent high acclaim. Now it appears that the acclaim, while indeed justified, was owed to the many other pianists whose recordings they actually were. What's fun about this brouhaha is both the plagiarism and its discovery were made possible by today's technology. The pilfered recordings were digitally altered to make them slightly different from the originals but not different enough, apparently. Gramophone, the British music journal, reports:

Several days ago, another Gramophone critic decided to listen to a Hatto Liszt CD, of the 12 Transcendental Studies. He put the disc into his computer to listen, and something awfully strange happened. His computer's player identified the disc as, yes, the Liszt, but not a Hatto recording. Instead, his display suggested that the disc was one on BIS Records, by the pianist Laszlo Simon. Mystified, our critic checked his Hatto disc against the actual Simon recording, and to his amazement they sounded exactly the same.

If you want to hear for yourself go here for actual samples. Hatto's husband has been mum about the whole business but something tells me he's got some 'splainin' to do.

It was not possible to confirm rumors Sen. Joseph Biden served as a consultant on these productions.

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