2007-03-03

Hatto saga drawing to a close

It looks likely that following her husband's admission of guilt, the Joyce Hatto saga will soon draw to a close.

1. While enthusiasts may continue to identify the origin(s) of various Joyce Hatto recordings, it is safe to assume that very few, if any, of her CDs released over the past two decades or so are actually hers.

2. The affected labels are unlikely to bring William Barrington-Coupe to court given that any monetary compensation they may get will be dwarfed by the legal costs. The same reasoning applies to the other group of victims - the deceived consumers.

3. With the admission of guilt, Barrington-Coupe will almost certainly discontinue selling Joyce Hatto CDs.

4. Whatever her actual role in this saga, Joyce Hatto will in future be remembered not as a pianist, but as the central figure in the so-called "Hatto Hoax".

5. There will be eggs on certain critics' face for their part in cultivating a cult
of personality - Joyce Hatto as "the greatest British pianist that no one has heard of".

Should we believe that Barrington-Coupe did it for the love of his wife? Well, it probably was one of the reasons why he did it in the beginning, when he needed to "doctor" shortcomings of Joyce Hatto's studio recordings. But like gambling and drug, once you start, there can be no stop. And the stake usually gets higher and higher. In the case of Barrington-Coupe, he probably soon realised that taking large sections of other pianists' recordings was the most convenient way, and that there was no reason why he couldn't continue to release "Joyce Hatto" CDs even after her death.