Shades of Pierre Menard

The riveting music story of the moment is the Joyce Hatto hoax. Gramophone…has revealed that several recordings attributed to the late, cultishly admired British pianist are identical to discs previously issued on other labels – including, remarkably, Yefim Bronfman and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s well-regarded 1990 recording of the Rachmaninov Third Piano Concerto.  The Gracenote database on iTunes exposed the fraud.  The possibility arises that many or most of Hatto’s hundred-odd releases on her husband’s Concert Artist label are stolen property.  Not having heard any Hatto discs, I can’t begin to judge what’s real and what’s not, but it’s a safe guess that anything conducted by the elusive René Köhler (scroll down this page for Concert Artist’s unverified biography) is a fake; in one case he’s Salonen, in another he’s Bernard Haitink…Jessica Duchen links to an internet discussion where one piano expert is quoted as saying that Minoru Nojima’s Liszt playing is "too clinical" and expressing a preference for Hatto – not aware that he’s discussing the same performance!

Here is the link, which includes further references, and also this account.  It should be noted that Hatto’s discs had no real chance of making money and in fact cost some money to put out; her husband created an independent label for the music.  In any case, I have heard Ms. Hatto play (albeit under different names), and the results were very impressive.  She can play just about anything, and she has mastered many styles.  Here is an earlier and indeed glowing review of Ms. Hatto’s work.  She was sadly unable to play in public, citing an unpredictable illness.

Addendum: I’ve been told by credible sources that an economist once submitted a paper to the QJE which the journal already had published, albeit by the real author.  The journal at least had the good sense to accept and publish the work again.


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