"A Hatto Original"
MOZART (1756-1791) Complete Piano Sonatas CD 1 [71:09]
Sonata in C major K.279 [14:39]
Sonata in F major K.280 [13:36]
Sonata in B flat major K.281 [14:58]
Sonata in E flat major K.282 [13:19]
Sonata in G major K.283 [13:39] CD 2 [64:41]
Sonata in D major K.284 [27:50]
Sonata in C major K.309 [19:32]
Sonata in D major K.311 [16:49] CD 3 [63:52]
Sonata in A minor K.310 [18:59]
Sonata in C major K.330 [19:49]
Sonata in A major K.331 [24:38] CD 4 [75:40]
Sonata in F major K.332 [19:45]
Sonata in B flat major K.333 [23:07]
Fantasia in C minor K.475 [12:27]
Sonata in C minor K.457 [19:37] CD 5 [70:44]
Sonata in F major K.533/494 [25:10]
Sonata in C major K.545 [10:43]
Sonata in B flat major K.570 [18:33]
Sonata in D major K.576 [15:33]
rec. 1-8 August 1986 (Kk.310, 330, 331, 332, 333), 12-16
January 1987 (Kk.457, 475, 570), 21-27 April 1987 (Kk.533/494,
545, 576), 25-31 October 1988 (K.280, 282, 309), 20-25 July
1989 (Kk.279, 281, 283), 16-21 July 1991 (Kk.284, 311) DENON COCQ-83689-93 [5
CDs: 71:09 + 64:41 + 63:52 + 75:40 + 70:44]
[These recordings were issued by Concert Artist in 2003
as the work of Joyce Hatto on 5 separate CDs numbered CACD
9051-2/9055-2. They were issued again – with the one substitution
noted below – in 2005 in slim-line cases boxed as CAIPO 90512/90515.]
I don’t like saying “I told you so”, but when I dashed off my
Hatto, Some Thoughts, Some Questions and a Lot of Letters” immediately
after the breaking of the scandal, I suggested that someone
should take a look at the later Haebler cycle on Denon – “the
style is about right”. A positive identification of one volume
arrived quite soon, but Wikipedia continued to speak vaguely
about the others having been found to match, though without
a corroborating source. I can now confirm Haebler as the
source for the entire 2003 issue and all but one brief insert,
discussed below, in the 2005 boxed set.
The choice of Ingrid Haebler was an uncharacteristic but
astute one. Most of the pianists chosen for Hattification
were very little-known
indeed, as were the record labels themselves. Haebler was
born in Vienna in 1929, made her debut at Salzburg at the
age of 11, studied with Magaloff and Marguerite Long and
enjoyed a career of considerable international renown. As
well as solo playing she appeared extensively with such chamber
music partners as Henryk Szeryng, with whom she recorded
that Mozart sonatas for violin and piano. After some early
discs for Vox she was for many years a Philips artist, recording
the complete Mozart concertos – with Galliera, Rowicki and
Colin Davis – and sonatas as well as much Schubert. In later
years she recorded for Denon, including more Schubert and
her second Mozart sonata cycle. She was included in the mammoth
Philips “Great Pianists” series, though not everyone felt
she deserved this honour.
The fact is that early on critics were regularly and perhaps
automatically dismissing her as a musically correct but overly
proper interpreter. Amid the general lack of enthusiasm her
Philips discs were quietly forgotten as the LP era gave way
to that of the CD. Not all instalments of her Denon Mozart
cycle – which originally had the competitive disadvantage
of coming out on seven CDs – were even reviewed by Gramophone.
Everyone “knew” what her playing was like, not many listened
to check if this was so.
This situation was cleverly exploited by the Hattifiers,
who obtained an acclaim for these performances which they
had never achieved
before. “Gramophone”, after cold-shouldering the original
Haebler discs in the late 1980s, gave “Editor’s Choice” status
to their Hattified reincarnation (1/07). Bryce Morrison,
in his review, even allowed himself some disparaging remarks
about Haebler’s “altogether more limited experience”. Later
he explained somewhat lamely, in a letter to “Gramophone” (6/07),
that “the reference in my review was to a general impression
received from listening to Haebler’s complete set of the
Piano Concertos”. The original Haebler Denon CDs, incidentally,
had been reviewed by Joan Chissell.
Personally, as a result of the generally lukewarm critical
consensus over Haebler, I never investigated her art. Nor
have I ever
pretended, in my MusicWeb reviews, to be acquainted with
it. But while, in one sense, I didn’t get egg on my face,
in another sense I think we all did. We all “knew”, no matter
how, that if you were going to look for a Mozart cycle to
challenge this wonderful new Hatto, it wouldn’t be Haebler’s.
It was only after the scandal broke that I remembered my
comments about Hatto’s consistently calm, sublime approach
and it occurred to me that the “prim and proper” Haebler
might actually be equated, if listened to without prejudice,
to the “personal illumination, acutely yet naturally sensitive
to the inner light that shines so often beneath Mozart’s
outwardly benign surface” which Bryce Morrison found in “Hatto”.
Is there any excuse? Has the Hattification process so utterly changed
the original Haebler as to affect our perception of it?
Well, in a world which lurches towards ecological disaster
and escalating religious extremism, the sheer ordered beauty
Mozart surely gives us something to cling to. Perhaps we
need her more than we did in her heyday.
As for the sound, the originals had a close but not overbearing
sonority, rich yet refined, responsive to every nuance. The
extremely detailed response to the music is allowed to register
fully. To give just one example, K533/494 opens with an unaccompanied
theme which sounds like a Bach fugue subject. The left hand
then enters with a typical Alberti bass. The effect can be
incongruous. Haebler begins brightly and perkily, as if the
theme really was going to develop into a lively Bach fugue.
Then, in the bar before the left-hand enters, she makes a
diminuendo. This is not just a change of volume, the sound
becomes softer, more sweetly Mozartian. You can hear Bach
changing into Mozart. It is magical.
Obviously, nothing the Hattifiers could do will actually
change this interpretation, but with the entire sound picture
down you notice it less. With the “Hatto”, everything is
suffused with that gentle golden quality which tended to
be a consistent aim of the Hattifiers and caught the public
imagination as the expression of the brave, beautiful, suffering
soul who was finding such sublime beauty in the face of a
cruel illness. There’s more flesh and blood to Haebler herself.
I doubt if the comparison with Haskil would have come so
easily to my mind.
Incidentally, was I responsible for adding Haskil to Hatto’s curriculum?
After my mention of Haskil in my review of Vol. 1, a delighted
Barrington-Coupe wrote to tell me that she had actually studied
most of the sonatas with “Haskel”. Hatto herself later elaborated
on the point. All this is documented in my previous writings,
linked blow. Thereafter Haskil was regularly cited – by Orga,
for example – as one of Hatto’s many mentors, but I am not
sure if she ever had been before. An interesting slant on
how the Hatto myth was developed.
Any reservations about Haebler?. Well, after hearing each
movement three times over in its various incarnations, I
get a little irritated by the “pecking” staccato she frequently
uses, even where no staccato is marked. It was certainly
useful for identification purposes – it normally became evident
after a few seconds that Haebler was once again the source
for “Hatto” – but I began to dream about it at night. On
the other hand, nobody would really expect to listen to a
Mozart cycle right through, playing each movement three times,
and I don’t think this mannerism of Haebler’s is going to
worry anyone who listens normally. Furthermore, I took a
summer break in the middle of Volume 4 and, coming back refreshed,
I didn’t find these staccatos worried me. I endorse my earlier
view that the last volume is a quite sublime achievement.
Some will want a more mercurial Mozart, but I still maintain
that Haebler offers the best possible performance of her
particular point of view, somewhat preferable to the more
easily-obtained Alicia de Larrocha (see review)
whose interpretative standpoint is similar.
The “Hatto” cycle was first released in 2003. My original
reviews can be read as follows:
In preparation for Concert Artist’s American launch in collaboration
with the New York-based IPO of William Sorin, a boxed set
was prepared in 2005. Both Hatto and Barrington-Coupe were
anxious to tell me that the opportunity had been taken to
make good “the silly editing error in the first movement
of the A major” (WBC) and that several tracks had been re-recorded
because “I do listen to good advice!” (JH). All my letters
from Hatto – if they really were from her – and those from
Barrington-Coupe not restricted to business matters – “I’ve
just sent this, did you receive that” – were published in
my article “Joyce Hatto, Some Thoughts, Some Questions and
a Lot of Letters”.
My review of the 2005 box may be read here.
At about the same time I reviewed the second cycle by Lili
Kraus and made quite detailed comparisons with “Hatto”.
Comparisons have shown that the 2003 release was a straight
rip-off from Haebler, without time manipulation. Disguise
by the damped-down sound picture, creative editing of silences
at the beginning and end of tracks, and a re-ordering of
the music. Only Vol. 1 offers an identical programme to Haebler’s
Vol. 1 – but mind you, I don’t know if the Hattifiers were
working from the original 7-CD issue or the later 5-CD one.
Haebler follows the new ordering of the sonatas offered by
the Henle edition, with the A minor as no.9 rather than no.8.
This is actually chronologically correct, but evidently too
new-fangled for the Hattifiers, who restore the traditional
order for the A minor, but then puzzlingly place K.311 at
the beginning of disc 4. As a consequence the plagiarized
Vols. 2, 3 and 4 have different programmes. In Vol. 5, while
the discs contain the same sonatas, K.533/494 has been illogically
placed at the end in the “Hatto”.
The 2005 has a further messed-up sound picture, especially in the
first disc. Furthermore, only CD 1 has no time-manipulation.
Here are the changes. I do not list movements which are unaffected.
Timings refer to actual music, without counting silences
at the beginning or end:
Two tracks call for special comment. The theme of K.331/(i)*,
but not the subsequent variations, has been replaced with a
by an unidentified pianist. This would appear to be a curious
demonstration of Hatto’s morbid sensitivity to criticism.
I had found the playing of the theme “less than ideally graceful”.
Hatto wrote to me that “I must say you are absolutely right
with regard to the theme of K.331! I have agonised and spent
many sleepless hours wondering how that came to pass. I have
no excuse I played it and I now have to live with it – that
is the problem with recording”. No agonizing or sleepless
hours for Mr. Fixit Barrington-Coupe – he just slotted in
another version. Almost needless to say, while I still maintain
my earlier criticism, Haebler’s own playing of the theme
is nevertheless a better prelude to her performance of the
variations. These were left untouched except for the last
which was speeded up from 01:25 to 01:13. I make this 14.1%,
almost the maximum the box of tricks was capable of. The “Hatto” sounds
quite crazy alongside the original.
The other special case is the C minor Fantasia**. Here the single
sections have been manipulated individually. Dividing the
work into 6 parts I find speed increases of 4.2%, 5.5%, 3.1%,
4.1%, 3.0% and 3.7%. However, this is a case where science
is preferable to manual labour. Mr. Farhan Malik is currently
preparing a website which
he hopes will eventually show complete identifications of
all “Hatto” CDs, showing wav files of the sources and plagiaries
and calculating tempo manipulations where present. At the
time of writing the Mozart wav files are not yet posted but
they probably will be by the time this review appears. The
difference of one second in the final track of Vol. 5 will
need confirmation from the computer, too. It is difficult
to be sure of such a small difference simply from one’s CD
And finally, the booklet notes. In 2003 these were anonymous
and provided a good general introduction to the sonatas – the same note
appeared in each volume. In 2005 the notes were signed by
Joyce Hatto. Basically the notes remained the same. We don’t
know who wrote them originally so we cannot know whether
she was appropriating other people’s efforts even here. They
have been expanded and corrected a little from a musicological
point of view. In addition they have been peppered here and
there with samples of Hatto’s wisdom and experience:
“In considering the scale of this sonata [K.284]
I was reminded of the J.C. Bach Sonata in D major, Op.5
no.2, a magnificent and effective piece that I played
with an eye to a prize in more tender years”.
“… I intended to allow a little extra space
to these earlier sonatas as I have always felt them to warrant
much more attention, and serious consideration, than many
young pianists seem to feel is their worth. It has always
disturbed me that so many recitalists seem inclined to sail
through one of these early Mozart sonatas as a ‘hand-warming’ precursor
to the meatier more crowd-pulling aspects of their programme. … I
have always had a particular regard for them and always prepare
them for a public performance with the greatest care and
enthusiasm” [note the persistent present tense].
“… the ‘Turkish’ effects of drum and cymbals
makes a truly joyous end [to K.331]. However, while joining
in the festivities, I rather like to keep the show on the
road and not my foot on the accelerator!”
“ As a performer, this is one of the moments
[K.332/(iii)] that I always pray to make as memorable as
I can. I remember the exhilaration that the incomparable
Walter Gieseking made on me when I heard the sonata for the
“… this sonata [K.545] should be published
with a health warning. An actor friend of mine confided that
his heart grew faint whenever he came to Hamlet’s ‘To
be or not to be’ soliloquy as practically every member
of the audience that he could see over the footlights was
quietly mouthing the speech with him. Similarly, I remember
an occasion as I walked through the tradesman’s entrance
at the Festival Hall a sweet little girl and her brother
carrying a copy of the Mozart Sonatas asked me to autograph
their programme. As I did so they opened their Mozart Volume
to show me their teacher’s comments written in green ink
in various places in the score. It is rather humbling when
told ‘and we shall be watching to make sure you do what
she says’. Well, as far as I am aware, they didn’t ask
for their money back”. [Note the breathless syntax].
Nice story, this last. It’s a pity that none of Hatto’s six
appearances in the Festival Hall so far traced included a
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