Tuesday, 4 December 2012

I have to confess that the Joyce Hatto scandal a few years ago in the music world completely passed me by and I had never even heard of this not-very-successful concert pianist, whose career never got off the ground because she was crippled with nerves - but who enjoyed an extraordinary late renaissance with CDs released when she was terminally ill with cancer.
For a short while she was 'the greatest pianist no-one has ever heard of.' Or was she?
Victoria Wood has made a terrific job of dramatising her story for the BBC - it's called Loving Miss Hatto - and I've been googling to discover more about the true story.
Hatto died in 2006 and shortly after her death, and glowing obituaries, it emerged that more than 100 of her recordings were fakes, pirated CDs that had been digitally tinkered with by her husband, 'Hattoised'  to resemble her touch ... fooling many critics, it has to be said, until iTunes analysis showed up the jiggerypokery.
Today Hatto's husband, Barrie, still alive and in his 80s (and whatever else you might think of him, hats off to his computer skills in the spare bedroom) admits that some recordings were 'enhanced' to edit out Joyce's groans of pain as she was recording.
But he insists that Joyce herself knew nothing about the hoax.
Not being a music buff, I wouldn't much care - but Victoria Wood, who made a deliberate decision not to meet Barrie, has turned this into a poignant love story about living with disappointment and how it drains the life out of you.
Was Hatto really too scatty to know? Did she feel that she deserved her 15 minutes of fame that had been so long in coming? Did they both somehow persuade themselves that these were the ideal recordings that she could and should have made in a more perfect world?
There is an interview with Victoria Wood here.

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