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CLASSICAL  September 2007

CLASSICAL September 2007

Subject:

Re: The Joyce Hatto Scam

From:

Steve Schwartz <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 28 Sep 2007 13:56:57 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (88 lines)

David Harbin:

>Anne queries:
>
>>Why all this emphasis on blaming reviewers?
>
>Quote from an "expert" reviewer in Gramophone Liszt solo CDs:
>
> "Recorded between 1990 and 2004, these performances are reissued
> in brilliantly refurbished and clarified sound, forming part of
> a 100-CD discography. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that
> no other pianist, male or female, would even have considered
> such a comprehensive undertaking.
>
> ......
>
> Even in the most daunting repertoire, her poise in the face of
> one pianistic storm after another is a source of astonishment.
> Her warmth, affection, ease and humanity strike you at every
> turn, her scale and command without a hint of superficial or
> hard-nosed virtuosity. Here, Liszt's occasional histrionics and
> theatricality are tempered with the most aristocratic quality."
>
>Again, I wonder how this well regarded critic did not pick up on the
>scam?  It is a fair question.

Is it?  Why should the critic have picked up on the scam?  Have you any
idea how many hundreds of discs of "Hatto's repertoire" are out there?
It's a bit like having read every book in the New York Public Library
and being able to recall the contents.  *I'm* amazed that the scam was
so definitively exposed.

>Consider the non-existent conuctor & orchestra in the later Rach and
>Lizst pc CDs too.  Shouldn't someone have twigged earlier?

As has been mentioned before, a lot of publication information has been,
for various legal and commercial reasons, fudged.  I have a recording
of a Havergal Brian symphony, supposedly by some Lisbon orchestra (which
I can't find on the net) and a fictitious conductor.  The "Robert Shaw
Symphony Orchestra" was actually members of the Cleveland Orchestra,
under contractual obligation to Columbia at the time.  Why should I
suspect that a scam has been perpetrated?  Why would that lead me to
believe that it was Charles Munch rather than Robert Shaw who conducted?
I guess I'm spectacularly missing your point.

>Gramophone make great play of the breath and depth
>of their knowledge, the world's leading CM mag etc.

But what sort of knowledge do they claim?  That they've heard everything?
Or that they've heard a lot?  As I say, with the numbers of recordings
out there of any particular standard-repertoire piece, I can easily
imagine that they listened for comparison to three other recordings,
not including the one that was ripped off.  Why *would* they catch it? 
I once wrote a critical discography of the instrumental works of Richard
Strauss for an academic press.  I didn't listen to every recording, just
the ones either that I knew or that looked interesting to me.  I dare
say that I've probably heard more recordings of Strauss than most
reviewers, even though I wasn't complete.  And there's a futility of
"complete," since new recordings of this stuff come out all the time.

I think I'm with Don Satz on this one.  The scandal, other than the crime
itself, would have been if they had praised Hatto and damned the original.
Or maybe not.  Everybody changes his mind, after all.

It seems to me you've got to read each review in pretty much isolation.
You can certainly compare reviewers afterwards, but each engagement
to me must be total.  Does the writer make a point, not one that you
necessarily agree with, but that seems supported?  Take that quote
from the Gramophone critic.  Were "Liszt's occasional histrionics and
theatricality ...  tempered with the most aristocratic quality?" Does
he just state it, or does he support it?  That to me is the test.  The
other stuff is simple errors of fact, not judgment.

I guess I'm saying that I certainly wouldn't have caught Hatto out, had
I listened to any of her discs.  I would have concentrated on analyzing
the performance at hand, afterwards comparing to other recordings I knew.
If I had been lucky enough to have heard the real performer, there's
always the very good chance that I wouldn't have remembered the reading
in enough detail.  Again, I am amazed they caught her husband at all,
and so quickly.

Steve Schwartz

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