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Hatto hoax husband confesses

'Biggest attempt at recording theft ever attempted'

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The husband of the late classical pianist Joyce Hatto has apparently admitted to "doctoring" sound recordings issued on his own record label.

William Barrington-Coupe issued over 100 CDs of his wife, who hadn't performed in public for 30 years, on his label Concert Artists Recordings. Recently Hatto, who died last year, had been rediscovered to great critical acclaim.

However, sound analysis commissioned by Gramophone magazine revealed very strong evidence that the CDs issued under her name were actually the clumsily-manipulated recordings of other performers.

Audio expert and sound restorer Andrew Rose of Pristine Audio told us last week it was "the biggest attempt at recording theft ever attempted".

Barrington-Coupe initially denied the claims, but in a letter to the owner of a label whose work he illegally used, he finally confessed.

Gramophone reports the contents of his letter to BIS Records CEO Robert von Bahr. BIS's recording of László Simon performing Liszt's 12 Études d´exécution transcendante was one of the recordings identified on a Hatto CD.

In his letter, Barrington-Coupe admits to doctoring other people's recordings and passing them off as his wife's. According to Barrington-Coupe, he had been unable to master her authentic cassette recordings to CD, and began to "rerecord her repertoire". He chose performers whose style and technique were simple, and gradually learnt new audio tricks such as stretching the sound. It's a tall tale indeed, and Gramophone casts doubt on the plausibility of the hoaxer's confession.

In a statement on the BIS Records website last week, von Bahr said he would probably not sue for copyright infringement.

"Unless further, aggravating circumstances are discovered, we do therefore not intend to take any legal steps against those responsible for the possible infringement of the copyright of BIS Records." ®

Related link

Gramophone - 'I did it for my wife' – Barrington-Coupe confesses

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