iTunes Exposes Classical Music Hoax

from the gotcha dept

The classical music world has been thrown into a tizzy by the revelation that the recordings of an acclaimed, dead pianist are actually the work of a hoax. Shortly before her death, the British pianist Joyce Hatto was proclaimed by some to be the “the greatest living pianist that almost no one has heard of” upon the release of her recordings. But according to a sound engineer working on behalf of a classical music magazine, all 100 of her CDs can be attributed to other artists. What’s really fascinating about the story is how the hoax was discovered. Apparently a critic of the magazine put one of her CDs into iTunes and found that iTunes identified the recording as belonging to another artist. iTunes is able to identify an album by the comparing the duration of its tracks against a database of known albums. When the critic put in another one of Hatto’s CDs, iTunes again attributed it to another pianist. It was only then that the magazine decided to consult experts, who confirmed that the recordings were not original. Of course, Hatto’s husband who created a record label solely to distribute his late wife’s work claims to have “no idea” why the tracks seem so similar to other people’s recordings.


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Comments on “iTunes Exposes Classical Music Hoax”

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12 Comments
Matt (profile) says:

Re: first post! bam!

KneeL, you’re missing the point…

What the article says is that Ms. Hutto had been taking recordings from other pianists AND PASSING THEM OFF AS HER OWN RECORDINGS.

What you’re thinking is, “Hm. So she’s recorded Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5. Where’s the foul?”

The problem is that she has taken, say, Claudio Arrau’s recordings, and then slapped her name on them and released them as being her performances.

I can only imagine the fun that the lawyers will have on this one…

B says:

Wait a minute

In the Gramophone article they say that iTunes/CDDB identifies one Hatto disc as being by an artist named Laszlo Simon. Later they say that the sound engineer analyzed the recordings and said that 10 of the 12 tracks were identical to Simon’s recordings. Another one was identical to an artist named Nojima and the last one was unattributed.

So then Hatto’s release was a compilation of sorts yet CDDB matched it to the work of a single artist. I know all it is doing is comparing the number of tracks with the duration of the disc, so there are bound to be false positives, but it makes me wonder about the circumstances that set this whole thing in motion.

Harvey says:

CDDB is not a good test for this...

The disc ids used for CDDB are based on the number of tracks on a CD and their durations. If two people legitimately recorded the same classical pieces in the same style and tempo, the CDs would appear identical to CDDB. There are many CDs (with completely different songs and genres) in CDDB that look similar enough to be the same.

In this case, however, CDDB let’s you know enough that you can then compare the actual data in the tracks to see if they’re the same.

To sum up, CDDB doesn’t use the actual music itself to generate its ids. It just uses the CD table of contents.

From wikipedia: “Critics charge that the field listings for CDDB are inadequate for the inclusion of proper identification of classical music recordings.”

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