Joyce Hatto

Joyce Hatto

Joyce Hatto (5 September 1928 – 29 or 30 June, 2006) was a British pianist and piano teacher. She became famous late in life, when unauthorized copies of commercial recordings made by other pianists were released under her name, earning her high praise from critics. The fraud did not come to light until a few months after her death.


Hatto played at a small number of concerts in London beginning in the 1950s. There were also concerts by "pupils of Joyce Hatto": [ [ | "The real Hatto" (makropulos)] ] she taught the piano at Crofton Grange, a girls' boarding school in Hertfordshire. [Report on Front Row, BBC Radio 4, 6 April 2007]

Her playing drew mixed notices from the critics. A critic for "The Times" wrote of an October 1953 performance at Chelsea Town Hall that "Joyce Hatto grappled doggedly with too hasty tempi in Mozart's "D Minor piano concerto" and was impeded from conveying significant feelings towards the work, especially in quick figuration." Trevor Harvey wrote of her Saga recording of Rachmaninoff's "Piano Concerto No.2" "one wonders ... whether her technique is really on top of the difficulties of this music ... She shows a musical sense of give and take with the orchestra but it remains a small, rather pallid performance" ("The Gramophone", August 1961).

Vernon Handley, who conducted the Guildford Philharmonic on her recording of Sir Arnold Bax's "Symphonic Variations", also had reservations: "She was very, very good as a solo player, and a very nice person, but she had a very doubtful sense of rhythm ... [t] he recording of the Bax was a tremendous labour."cite news | first = Geoff | last = Edgers | title = Cherished music wasn't hers | url = | work = The Boston Globe | date = 2007-02-27 | accessdate = 2007-03-06 ] Still the record received a favourable review: "Joyce Hatto gives a highly commendable account of the demanding piano part," wrote Robert Layton ("Gramophone", February 1971).

In 1973 Hatto gave the world premiere of two recently-published "Bourrée"s by Chopin in London's Queen Elizabeth Hall. [cite book
publisher=Omnibus Press
] However by 1976 she had stopped performing in public, with only a few recordings to her credit. It was later claimed that she was already battling cancer at the time. [ [ MusicWeb International | Joyce Hatto Obituary] ] However, the consultant radiologist who saw her every six weeks for the last eight years of her life stated that she was first treated for ovarian cancer in 1992, fourteen years before her death and had had no previous history of the disease. [Jessica Duchen, " [ Notes on a scandal] ", "The Independent", 26 February, 2007.]


In Hatto's last years, more than 100 recordings falsely attributed to her appeared. The repertoire represented on the CDs included the complete sonatas of Beethoven, Mozart and Prokofiev, concertos by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Mendelssohn, and most of Chopin's compositions, along with rarer works such as the complete Godowsky Chopin Studies. The recordings were released, along with piano recordings falsely attributed to the late Sergio Fiorentino, by the English label Concert Artist Recordings, run by Hatto's husband William Barrington-Coupe. Barrington-Coupe had a long history in the record industry [Singer, M. 'Joyce Hatto: Notes on a scandal' "Daily Telegraph" Issue No 47,412 10 November 2007 [ "Telegraph Magazine" p.55] ] . To go along with the release of these 'Hatto' recordings, stories began to be spread by Barrington-Coupe about his wife's contacts in the distant past with many of the greatest musicians of the mid-twentieth century, all by then dead;cite news | first = Claudia | last = Joseph | coauthors = Luck, Adam | title = Revenge of the fraudster pianist | url = | work = Mail on Sunday | date = 2007-02-24 | accessdate = 2007-03-06 ] even the distinguished critic Neville Cardus had been dazzled by her playing, according to a story found in one obituary. [cite news
title = Joyce Hatto (obituary) | url = | work = Daily Telegraph | date = 2006-07-28 | accessdate = 2007-09-30

From 2003 onwards, the recordings attributed to Hatto began to receive enthusiastic praise from a small number of participants on various Usenet groups, mailing lists, and web forums [See in particular the archives of [] and the Yahoo Groups [ Great Pianists] and [ Pianophiles] ] , sparked by a blind-listening test in December 2002 posted on [ ThePiano Yahoo! group] featuring [ a recording under Hatto's name of Liszt's Mephisto Waltz] . Specialized record review magazines and websites, such as "Gramophone", "MusicWeb" and "Classics Today", as well as newspapers such as "The Boston Globe", eventually discovered Hatto, reviewed the recordings (with mostly very favourable notices), and published interviews and appreciations of her career; in one case, she was described as "the greatest living pianist that almost no one has ever heard of." [cite news |first=Richard |last=Dyer |title=After recording 119 CDs, a hidden jewel comes to light |url= |work=The Boston Globe |date=2005-08-21 |accessdate=2007-02-21 ] Those praising the recordings included Tom Deacon, a former record producer for Philips, who produced the Great Pianists series, Bryce Morrison, a long-time reviewer for "Gramophone", Jed Distler, a reviewer for "Classics Today", Ateş Orga, a music critic who also wrote some of the liner notes for Concert Artist, as well as an obituary, and Ivan Davis, a well-known professional pianist [ [ Boston Globe obituary] July 4, 2006 (p. 2)] .

In May 2005, the musicologist Marc-André Roberge reported on the Yahoo! Godowsky group! [cite news | first=Marc-André | last=Roberge | coauthors= | title=Misreading in Mrs. Hatto's recording of Etude no. 2| date=2005-05-12 | publisher= | url = | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-03-15 | language = (In Hatto's recording of Study No. 2 (second version of Op. 10, No. 1), the penultimate chord was played as if it were preceded by an F-clef (which caused it to sound as F minor rather than D-flat major), just as Carlo Grante had done in his first recording of the entire set. As strange as it could be that a pianist who had allegedly lived with these studies for decades should not eventually have corrected the misreading, the coincidence was not pursued. A comparative listening of Hatto’s recording with those by Grante and Marc-André Hamelin would rapidly have led to the conclusions made public only in early 2007. For instance, one would have noted that bar 64 of Study No. 19 (first version of Op. 10, No. 10) features the same use of the lower octave as in Grante, and that bar 130 of Study No. 33 (first version of Op. 25, No. 4) has the same textural modification in the left hand as in Hamelin (Hyperion CDA67411/2, released 2000).)] that, in Hatto’s version of the Chopin-Godowsky Studies on the Concert Artist label, a misreading of a chord was identical to one on the Carlo Grante recording (AIR-CD-9092, released 1993). However, this curious coincidence did not prompt Roberge (or others) to investigate further, and verification of the copying from the Grante disc only occurred in 2007 (see below).

In early 2006, doubts about various aspects of Hatto's recording output were expressed, both in the [ RMCR Usenet Group] and, following the publication of a lengthy appreciation of Hatto in the March issue of "Gramophone", by readers of that magazine. In particular, some found it hard to believe that a pianist who had not performed in public for decades and was said to be fighting cancer should produce in her old age a vast number of recordings, all apparently of high quality. It also proved difficult to confirm any of the details of the recordings made with orchestra, including even the existence of the conductor credited. The doubters were vigorously countered, most publicly by critic Jeremy Nicholas who, in the July 2006 issue of "Gramophone", challenged unnamed sceptics to substantiate their accusations by providing evidence that would "stand up in a court of law". Nicholas's challenge was not taken up, and in December, Radio New Zealand was able, in all innocence, to re-broadcast their [ hour-long programme] of glowing appreciation of the Concert Artist Hatto CDs. This programme included excerpts from a phone interview with Hatto herself, conducted on April 6, 2006, in which she said nothing to dispel the presenter's assumption that she was the sole pianist on all the CDs.

The favourable reviews and publicity generated substantial sales for the Concert Artist CDs: in 2006, one online retailer did £50,000 worth of business with Barrington-Coupe. [Report on Front Row, BBC Radio 4, 6 April 2007]

Hatto died on June 29 or June 30 2006 [ [ JOYCE HATTO (1928 - 2006)- July 2006 MusicWeb-International ] ] [ [ Joyce Hatto, English pianist, dies aged 77] ] (sources differ as to the actual date).

Recordings unmasked

In February 2007 it was announced that the CDs ascribed to Hatto had been discovered to contain copies, in some cases digitally manipulated (stretched or shrunk in time, re-equalised and rebalanced), of published commercial recordings made by other artists. While some of these artists were well-known, the majority were less so. When Brian Ventura, a financial analyst from Mount Vernon, New York, put the recording of Liszt's "Transcendental Etudes" credited to Hatto into his computer, the Gracenote database used by the iTunes software identified the disc not as a recording by Hatto but as one by László Simon. On checking online samples of the Simon recording, Ventura found it to be remarkably similar to the version credited to Hatto. He then contacted Jed Distler, a critic for "Classics Today" and "Gramophone", who had praised many of the recordings ascribed to Hatto. [Jason Fry, "A Classical-Music Mystery", Wall Street Journal, 26 February 2007.]

Says Distler,

An identification of the source of another recording, which had been in preparation for some months, [See this [ CHARM presentation] from November 2006 for the essence of the findings] was released the following day by [ The AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music] (CHARM) (based at Royal Holloway, University of London) [ [ CHARM] ] as a by-product of research on performances of Chopin "Mazurkas". [ [] ] Within a week of the initial story being posted on the "Gramophone" website on 15 February, the sources for some 20 of Hatto's Concert Artist CDs had been identified.

On each of the concerto recordings published in Hatto's final years under her name, the conductor's name was given as "René Köhler", and Barrington-Coupe provided a detailed biography for "Köhler". [ [ Musicweb International | Joyce Hatto: the recordings, part 2] ] The information given there has not withstood careful scrutiny.cite news
title=Fantasia for Piano
work=The New Yorker
] The conductors whose work is represented on the concerto recordings credited to Hatto and Köhler are now known to include Esa-Pekka Salonen, André Previn and Bernard Haitink, while the orchestras, claimed to be the National Philharmonic-Symphony and the Warsaw Philharmonia, are now known to include the Vienna Philharmonic, The Philharmonia, and the Royal Philharmonic.

Admission of fraud

Barrington-Coupe initially denied any wrongdoing but subsequently admitted the fraud in a letter to Robert von Bahr, the head of the Swedish BIS record label that had originally issued some of the recordings plagiarized by Concert Artists. Bahr shared the contents of the letter with "Gramophone" magazine, which reported the confession on its website on February 26, 2007. James Inverne [ 'I did it for my wife' Joyce Hatto exclusive, William Barrington-Coupe confesses] "Gramophone" 26 February 2007] Barrington-Coupe claims that Hatto was unaware of the deception, that he acted out of love and made little money from the enterprise, and that he started out by pasting portions of other pianists' recordings into recordings made by Hatto in order to cover up her "gasps of pain". Some critics, however, have cast doubt on this version of events.See for example [ Classics Today (David Hurwitz)] ] Denis Dutton, 'Shoot the piano player, New York Times, February 26 2007, and at [] ] The discovery of plagiarized tracks on a Concert Artist compact disc released under the name of pianist Sergio Fiorentino raised further questions.cite web | work=CHARM | accessdate=2007-12-10 | title=Joyce Hatto and others: who was playing the piano? | url=] Barrington-Coupe has so far refused to help identify the sources of the recordings issued under Hatto's name, claiming that "whatever I do, it won’t be enough". [ [ Ann McFerran, interview with Barrington-Coupe, Sunday Times, 4 March 2007] ]

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has begun an investigation. If the allegations are true, it would be "one of the most extraordinary cases of piracy the record industry had ever seen", according to a BPI spokesman. [Theunis Bates [,9171,1592609,00.html Of Concertos and Copyrights] "Time" 22 February 2007]

Recordings and their sources

Here is a list of some of the performances attributed to Hatto whose sources have so far been discovered (sorted by Concert Artist catalogue number). More detailed track by track information can be found at the [ Joyce Hatto Identifications website]

Early discography

The recent release of Arnold Bax's Symphonic Variations in E Major (CACD90212), issued by the Concert Artist label, is confirmed to be a reissue of Hatto's 1970 recording with the Guildford Philharmonic conducted by Vernon Handley, originally issued on Barrington-Coupe's Revolution label.

Hatto's authentic recordings never had a wide distribution, and as far as can be ascertained at this point, the above-mentioned work of Bax was the last to appear on LP in 1970. In the eighties, there were some more works released on tape cassettes (Grieg Piano Concerto and a number of Liszt compositions: the two Piano Concerti, Rigoletto paraphrase, Miserere del Trovatore paraphrase, Totentanz (solo piano version), Seven Hungarian Historical Portraits). The solo piano repertoire of these releases shows works Hatto played also at that period in London on various occasions at Royal Festival Hall and other venues.

Her early releases include:
*Concert Artist 7-inch EPs:
**Walter Gaze Cooper Piano Concerto #3
**Elspeth Rhys-Williams, 4 Impressions, 2 Songs
**Michael Williams Introduction & Allegro for piano & orchestra
**"Music for the Films" (Addinsell, Bath, Chas. Williams) w/London Variety Theatre Orchestra/Gilbert Vinter
**Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue w/Hamburg Pro Musica/George Byrd [Also issued on the Forum label: cite book |last=Carnovale |first=Norbert|title=George Gershwin: a Bio-bibliography|url=|year=2000 |publisher=Greenwood Press|isbn=0313260036|pages=419 ]
**Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #2 w/Hamburg Pro Musica/George Hurst
**Chopin Sonatas #1 & 3
**Chopin Minor Piano works (Albumblatt, Fugue, Andante cantabile etc.)
**Mozart Piano Concertos K. 466 & 488 w/Pasdeloup Orchestra/Isaie Disenhaus
**Mozart Piano Concerto K. 453, Rondo K. 382 w/London Classic Players/David Littaur
**Chopin 10 Nocturnes
**Gershwin 16 items from the "Song Book"
**Lecuona assorted piano pieces
**Bax Piano Sonata #1, Piano Sonata #4, Toccata, Water Music
**Bax Symphonic Variations in E w/Guildford Philharmonic/Vernon Handley


External links

* [ Andrys Basten's comprehensive listing of links] to news items, interviews and commentaries; includes download of Mephisto Waltz recording cited in Jan. 2003 on RMCR newsgroup
* [ Joyce Hatto Identifications website]
* [,,2024790,00.html Mark Lawson, "Our ears may deceive us", "The Guardian", 2 March 2007.]
* [ "Ny Teknik": "'Så ska det inte låta!'] -- Swedish article about the Joyce Hatto affair, William Barrington-Coupe confesses to Robert von Bahr, director of Swedish record company Bis" published February 28, 2007
* [ Geoff Edgers, "Cherished music wasn't hers", "Boston Globe", 27 February 2007.]
* [ "Gramophone": "'I did it for my wife' -- Joyce Hatto exclusive, William Barrington-Coupe confesses", published February 26, 2007]
* [ "Classics Today": "The Hatto Affair: 'I did it for my wife' -- David Hurwitz, published February 26, 2007]
* [ "International Herald Tribune": "The Joyce Hatto Scandal", published February 25, 2007]
* [ "Daily Mail": "Revenge of the fraudster pianist", published February 24, 2007]
* [ "The Telegraph": "CD scandal husband tells of criminal past", published February 24, 2007]
* [ "Joyce Hatto –some thoughts, some questions and a lot of letters", by Christopher Howell, published February 21, 2007]
* [ "The Telegraph": " My wife's virtuoso recordings are genuine", published February 20, 2007]
* [ David Patrick Stearns, "Ears don't deceive - the CD covers do". "Philadelphia Inquirer", 20 February 2007.]
* [ "Will the Real Joyce Hatto Please Stand Up", by David Hurwitz, published February 18, 2007]
* [ "Gramophone": "Masterpieces or Fakes? The Joyce Hatto Scandal", published February 15, 2007]
* [ "Joyce Hatto - The Ultimate Recording Hoax" on, released February 15, 2007]
* [ "CHARM": "Purely coincidental? Joyce Hatto and Chopin's Mazurkas", released February 16, 2007]
* [ "International Herald Tribune": "Questions arise over recordings by pianist Joyce Hatto", published February 16, 2007]
* [ "Times Online": "Piano ‘genius’ is branded a fake", published February 17, 2007]
* [ "The Telegraph": "Pianist's virtuosity is called into question", published February 17, 2007]
* [ "New York Times": "A Pianist’s Recordings Draw Praise, but Were They All Hers?," published February 17, 2007]
* [ "Boston Globe" "Joyce Hatto, at 77; pianist was prolific recording artist" published July 4 2006, retrieved July 10, 2006]
* [ Joyce Hatto by Ates Orga Part 1]
* [ Joyce Hatto by Ates Orga Part 2]
* [ Joyce Hatto - A Pianist of Extraordinary Personality and Promise]
* [ Joyce Hatto, English pianist, dies aged 77]
* [ iTunes fingers musical fraud]
* [ Radio New Zealand feature including interview with Hatto, first broadcast 28 May 2006]
* [ "'Hatto Recordings Counterfeit?', Radio New Zealand, 19 Feb 2007"]
* [ "Hatto source albums on eMusic"]
* [ "Hatto eMusic Message Board discussion"]
* [ The Great Classical Piano Swindle] ["Intelligent Life", September 2007]
* [ Fantasia For Piano (New Yorker article including interview with William Barrington-Coupe)] , 17 September 2007
* [ Joyce Hatto: Notes on a scandal] "Daily Telegraph" 10 November 2007 (abridged version of "New Yorker" article)

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