Scott Morrison wrote:
>The humongous number of CDs issued as by Joyce Hatto, who recently died,
>have gotten a generally adoring press. And it turns out they were almost
>certainly fakes, copied from other pianists' recordings.
>Read these links and decide for yourselves.
A couple of observations on this:
First, as far as I am concerned, the evidence is completely conclusive.
These recordings are either straight copies of previous releases, or
digital reworkings of same. Despite the protestations of William
Barrington-Coupe, these recordings are obviously fakes and he is doing
the memory of his wife's artistry a great disservice by perpetrating
this hoax. I'm sure that the various original copyright holders will
soon bury this enterprise in a avalanche of copyright infringement
lawsuits. I'm not a huge fan of all aspects of the copyright laws,
but in this case they are going to be put to good and rightful use.
The real scandal, as far as I'm concerned, is with the reviewers and
their publishers. In a recent article for Stereophile by David Patrick
Stearns titled "Going for the Grail - The Obsession that is Classical
Music Collecting", he writes (referring in part to the recordings of
"Brilliance plus obscurity equals mystique."
And goes on to discuss the importance of the "back story" in creating
that mystique. For whatever reason, classical music lovers seem to
love a "genius laboring in total obscurity" story more than most. It's
understandable in the context of exploration and discovery inherent in
this avocation. But reviewers, the good ones anyway, are supposed to
resist the knee-jerk reaction and be able to see past the mystique, at
least to a degree. Criticism is meant to be "skeptical*. It seems to
me that any reviewer who praised these recordings as being from an unknown
talent needs to do some soul searching. Obviously it may not be possible
to be thoroughly familiar with all the recordings of a given work,
especially if that work has been performed many, many times. But if a
critic is to proclaim an unknown artist a genius, then that critic better
be able to defend that position. I'd really like to see these reviewers
justify what they have written. Will they be going back and re-evaluating
the performances that been less-heavily praised when first released,
back before they lacked the (faked) mystique? Are these performers now
more gifted than they were when the recordings were originally released?
Were the earlier performances that lacked the obscurity and mystery
treated fairly? For me this is an important issue that speaks to both
competence and ethics in the world of music criticism, such as it exists
today. I'd go so far as to say that if reviewing was a vocation instead
of an avocation, this incident would demand resignations and retirements
at the very least. In any case, obscurity plus mystique does not equal
brilliance. But perhaps I'm alone in this assessment.