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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 18:03 GMT
Classical CDs 'faked' by producer
Joyce Hatto in 1954
Joyce Hatto was born in 1928 and died last June, aged 77
The husband of a British pianist has admitted passing off other classical recordings as those of his late wife, one "sampled" artist's label has said.

William Barrington-Coupe sent a letter to the BIS label to admit faking parts of CDs by Joyce Hatto, the label said.

BIS said he told them he did it because his wife had cancer and could be heard groaning in pain during recordings.

"It is self-evident that I have acted stupidly, dishonestly and unlawfully," he wrote, the label told the BBC.

Hatto was hailed as an unsung classical music star when she died in June 2006.

Mr Barrington-Coupe was not answering phone calls and so was unavailable to comment on the claim by the Swedish record company.

But BIS chief executive Robert von Bahr said he had received a letter from Mr Barrington-Coupe in which he acknowledged the deception.

"It is very touching and he does go through every detail and how he did it and he makes it very credible," Mr von Bahr said.

She'll go down in notoriety rather than fond memory, and that's a great shame
James Inverne
Gramophone magazine editor

According to Gramophone magazine, Barrington-Coupe admitted passing off other people's recordings as being by his wife, but he did it to give her the illusion of a great end to an overlooked career.

He initially patched in short passages by other performers who shared Hatto's sound and style to cover her grunts of pain, the magazine said.

But as he got better at the process, he started inserting longer sections.

Despite the confession, Mr von Bahr said he would not take legal action.

"I don't see how either myself or the industry can get any satisfaction for pure revenge," he said. "I think the whole thing is deeply tragic story."

I've closed the operation down, I've had the stock completely destroyed, and I'm not producing any more
William Barrington-Coupe
But others in the music industry were "rather upset" and contemplating taking action, he added.

The deception emerged when a Gramophone reader put Ms Hatto's recording of Liszt's Transcendental Etudes into his computer.

An online database identified the recording as being by Laszlo Simon, released by BIS in 1987.

Then a recording of Rachmaninov piano concertos by Ms Hatto was identified as that of Yefim Bronfman on Sony, according to Gramophone.

And another piece Hatto recorded, composed by Leopold Godowsky, was found to be the same as a performance by Carlo Grante, but digitally altered and slowed down by 15%.

Recordings 'in doubt'

Gramophone editor James Inverne told the BBC News website: "We wouldn't have known even to look had it not been for the accident where iTunes came up with the 'correct' title for the discs.

"All the recordings are in doubt unless proved otherwise now.

"We're talking about over 100 works she recorded and the only person who really will know - if even he has kept records - is William Barrington-Coupe, and he declines to give lists."

When Hatto died, she was described as "one of the greatest pianists Britain has ever produced" by the Guardian and "a singular artist of superlative technique and interpretation" by the Times.


Mr Inverne added: "We haven't known anything like this, on this sort of scale before."

He said it would remain "impossible" to tell how talented Ms Hatto had been unless Mr Barrington-Coupe revealed the full scale of the deception.

"She'll go down in notoriety rather than fond memory, as it were, and that's a great shame."

But Mr Barrington-Coupe was quoted by Gramophone as saying he was not inclined to release further details.

"I'm tired, I'm not very well," he said.

"I've closed the operation down, I've had the stock completely destroyed, and I'm not producing any more. Now I just want a little bit of peace."

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28 Sep 06 |  Entertainment


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