Fake Classical Recordings?

The late classical pianist Joyce Hatto released over 100 recordings shortly before her death in 2006. According to Gramaphone magazine,

To love Hatto recordings was to be in the know, a true piano aficionado who didn’t need the hype of a major label’s marketing spend to recognise a good, a great, thing when they heard it.

But it appears Hatto was not the virtuoso some believed. Using a variety of technology (including the simple act of ripping one of her CDs using iTunes), Hatto and her husband/producer are being accused of stealing other musicians’ recordings.

Several days ago, another Gramophone critic was contacted by a reader who had put a Hatto Liszt CD—the 12 Transcendental Studies—into his computer to listen to, and something awfully strange happened. His computer’s player identified the disc as, yes, the Liszts, but not a Hatto recording. Instead, his display suggested that the disc was one on BIS Records, by the pianist Laszlo Simon. Mystified, our critic checked his Hatto disc against the actual Simon recording, and to his amazement they sounded exactly the same.


Gramophone then sent the Hatto and the Simon Liszt recordings to an audio expert, Pristine Audio’s Andrew Rose, who scientifically checked the soundwaves 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.”

The folks at Pristine Audio have posted a series of articles about their research and findings, complete with side-by-side audio comparisons and images of wave forms and equalizers.

I don’t know why I find this fascinating, seeing as I’d never heard of the artist before now and don’t listen to a lot of classical music.

Perhaps I just like a good mystery.