Thursday, February 22, 2007
iTunes reveals classical copies
New Scientist reports: [edited]
The recordings of a British concert pianist who found fame in the last years of her life have been exposed as hoaxes - by Apple's iTunes music player.
Joyce Hatto died in June 2006, having become a cause célèbre with fans of classical piano in the last years of her life. A series of recordings showed her masterful command of a wide range of composers including Liszt, Schubert, Rachmaninov, Dukas and more.
Last week, a critic at the Gramophone magazine got a surprise when he put a Hatto recording of Lizt's 12 Transcendental Studies into his computer. The iTunes player identified the disc as being recorded by another pianist, Lászlo Simon. He dug out the Simon album and found it sounded exactly the same as the Hatto one.
The Gramophone critic tried another disc - Hatto playing Rachmaninov - and again iTunes identified it as belonging to someone else. Again, the named recording - by Yefim Bronfman - sounded identical.
Gramophone decided to go to expert audio company Pristine Audio. Their detailed webpages shows what they found, and lets you listen to the evidence. Examinations of the waveforms of Hatto recordings confirmed what iTunes had suggested. Many are direct copies of other pianist's work - some are tweaked versions where a recording has simply been slowed down.
Hatto's husband, who produced and released them, says he cannot explain the similarities.