The Register notes Gramophone magazine has unearthed what one sound recording expert describes as "the biggest attempt at recording theft ever." Of the "villain" (Joyce Hatto), the Boston Globe had described her as "the greatest living pianist that almost no one has heard of". In a statement destined to haunt the Globe, a Globe critic wrote: "Best of all is her musical imagination, which finds original things to say about the most familiar music."
The Register reported: Sound engineer Andrew Rose of Pristine Audio, who performed an analysis of Hatto's recordings on behalf of Gramophone, says every one of the CDs he has analysed can be attributed to another artist. "We have yet to investigate a Hatto recording that has not proved to be a hoax," concludes Rose. In several cases, says Rose, the original sound recording had been manipulated to disguise the source.
There's a message for "accuracy on the internet:" Hatto's belated fame owes much to the internet, notes Rose. "It's a reputation that spread through the backwaters of the internet, thanks to online reviews and comments, message boards, and particularly on Usenet, ultimately resulting in the first major article in Gramophone magazine only a year ago. It's a reputation that was built online."
The critic who claimed to have discovered her CDs said it was "like finding the Holy Grail". Hatto was described as "one of the greatest pianists Britain has ever produced", who mastered the most difficult pieces ever written for the instrument with "awesome" and "astonishing" skill.
But at the same time as the cult of Hatto was burgeoning, there were persistent rumours on the internet as to the true origins of the recordings, according to the classical music magazine Gramophone.
How, wondered the doubters, could one woman – especially one who had battled cancer for many years – have mastered a range of repertoire and recorded a catalogue that arguably makes her more prolific than even the Richters and the Ashkenazys.
The story of fraud really "caught fire" when a Gramophone critic decided to listen to a Hatto Liszt CD, of the 12 Transcendental Studies, and discovered that his computer's player identified the disc as the Liszts, but not a Hatto recording. Instead, his display suggested that the disc was a recording of the pianist Lászlo Simon.
The music magazine then sent the Hatto and the Simon Liszt recordings to an audio expert, Pristine Audio’s Andrew Rose, who scientifically checked the sound waves of each recording. They matched. “Without a shadow of a doubt,” reported Rose, “10 of the tracks on the Liszt disc are identical to those on the Simon.” Of the remaining two, he now feels that he has identified a further one – which he identified as being, again “without a shadow of a doubt” from a CD entitled “Nojima Plays Liszt”, a 1993 release from Reference Recordings.
As a separate, but related, matter, recall the one poster in the Andersonville plagiarism incident who blamed the readers of the later book for not recognizing plagiarism from the earlier book?