April 11, 2007
MarkBernstein.org
 
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Framing

Pianist Joyce Hatto recorded more than 120 CDs before her death at age 77 last year. It now turns out that most or all of her CDs are, in fact, copies of recordings by other people. Denis Dutton reports in the NY Times.

In a rapturous review of Ms. Hatto’s playing of Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto, one critic said of the orchestra musicians: “It doesn’t matter who they are, their playing is tight and hot.” Actually, it did matter, since they have turned out to be the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, performing with the formidable Yefim Bronfman. Her version of the Brahms Second Concerto is Vladimir Ashkenazy’s, with the Vienna Philharmonic under Bernard Haitink laboring in the name of René Köhler.

What’s interesting here, of course, is that Hatto’s recordings generally were better known under her name than in under the name of the actual recording artist. It’s not pure marketing in the usual sense: Hatto was an ailing recluse who gave no concerts and seldom if ever gave interviews or made appearances. But the framing story of her body of work and of her illness-driven dedication to solitary performance helped make all her music sound better.