Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 3
Sound Quality: 8
Will the madness never end? Despite claims from husband William Barrington-Coupe that the Hatto scam was over and done with, I received the present release unexpectedly in the mail this past week. Evidently it represents the next stage in the ongoing, delusional plot to make Ms. Hatto queen of the classical music piano universe, for not only are the performances “borrowed” from elsewhere, now Ms. Hatto is being given credit for being the composer as well, in this case of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.
The notes (purportedly by Hatto herself) speak of her being inspired by a series of paintings hanging in the foyer of the Royal Liverpool Arts Society. “Gnomus” has somehow become “Gollum”, of Lord of the Rings fame; “The Old Castle” remains just that; “The Ballet of the Chicks in their Shells” is now “Dance of the Moth in its Cocoon”; “Two Jews” morph into “Two Scotsmen”; “Bydlo”, the lumbering oxcart has been modernized to represent “The London Underground at Rush Hour”; the marketplace at “Limoges” does duty for “Piccadilly Circus”; “Catacombs” is now “Stonehenge”; while “The Great Gate of Kiev” for some odd reason reminds Hatto of “The Barn Door at Manchester”. The various “pictures” are all connected by “walkabouts” rather than “promenades”. Tacky, isn’t it?
Leaving aside for the moment the provenance of the actual performance, which is a very good one, we can only wonder what the point of this odd exercise was (and my rating reflects this). Hatto is no longer with us; everyone knows Mussorgsky’s original. Adding insult to injury, the disc also includes what purports to be conductor René Köhler’s orchestration of the work, ably performed by the National Symphony Orchestra (whatever that is). It doesn’t take much effort to determine that this “bonus” is none other than Segerstam’s BIS recording of the Leo Funtek orchestration of Mussorgsky’s original. I can only hope that this disc emerged as a result of some long-forgotten backorder and does not serve as a harbinger of more to come. What’s next? Hatto as composer of the Hammerklavier? Kreisleriana? Opus Clavicembalisticum? One shudders at the thought.
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Recording Details:Album Title: HATTO PLAYS HATTO
Reference Recording: None
JOYCE HATTO - Pictures at an Exhibition