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"A Hatto Original"
Wolfgang Amadeus 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]
Ingrid Haebler (piano)
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 article “Joyce 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 prim and 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 of Haebler’s 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 pianist’s 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 damped 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 began to 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.
 
HATTIFICATION     
 
The “Hatto” cycle was first released in 2003. My original reviews can be read as follows:
 
Vol. 1; Vol. 2; Vol. 3; Vol. 4; Vol. 5
 
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 was provided 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:
 
CD 2
 
Haebler
Hatto 2005
K.310/iii
3:11
3:07

CD 3  

 
Haebler
Hatto 2005
K.330/ii
6:27
6:42
K.331/i
*
*
K.331/iii
3:29
3:24
K.332/ii
4:32
4:37
K.332/iii
7:57
7:44

CD 4
 
Haebler
Hatto 2005
K.311/i
4:41
4:36
K.311/ii
5:11
5:17
K.311/iii
6:46
6:36
K.333/i
7:43
7:58
K.333/ii
8:27
8:17
K.333/iii
6:49
6:43
K.475
**
**
K.457/i
7:03
6:55
K.457/ii
7:41
7:36
K.457
4:41
4:37

CD 5
 
 
Haebler
Hatto 2005
K.545/ii
5:46
5:43
K.570/i
6:22
6:17
K.570/ii
8:14
8:09
K.576/ii
5:37
5:33
K.576/iii
4:25
4:31
K.533/494/i
9:06
9:00
K.533/494/ii
9:16
9:10
K.533/494/iii
6:37
6:36

 
Two tracks call for special comment. The theme of K.331/(i)*, but not the subsequent variations, has been replaced with a version 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 counter.  
 
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 first time”.
 
“… 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 Mozart sonata.
 
Christopher Howell
 



 


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