The Great Piano Scam

Discovered a web-documentary about the Joyce Hatto piano hoax from a few years back. For those who don’t remember, or missed it, in the early 2000’s, a pianist named Joyce Hatto emerged and became a critical darling. She was evoked as a neglected master from the old school, and the recordings poured out and got raves from the likes of Gramophone, to the point of cultish adoration among the piano fanciers.

It was a good story, 70-year-old unknown becomes a rediscovered keyboard genius (somehow that she was a dowdy Englishwoman helped).  And as good stories will, it went, as not a word or a note of it held up. Her husband was plagiarizing others’ recordings, passing them off as hers.

I was then–as I am now–a Gramophone subscriber, and I watched it unfold in real time, including the sad denouement, after she had died of cancer and couldn’t comment one way another on motive or on what she did or didn’t know.

Here’s the film:

And here’s the list of those who were stolen from.

The real pianists were pretty fabulous: here’s László Simon in a ferocious & exciting performance of the beginning of the Liszt B minor
And an idea of how the engineering changed the sound just enough to fool people:

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