In an amazing turn of events, Gramophone has learned of a letter sent from William Barrington-Coupe to the head of BIS records in which he makes a full confession of his wrongdoing in the Joyce Hatto affair. Gramophone subsequently contacted Barrington-Coupe, who confirmed that he stands by the letter’s contents.
It was Gramophone that first revealed how several of the recordings released by Barrington-Coupe under his late wife’s name were identical to other recordings by a range of pianists on different labels. A media storm ensued, with most of the world’s major media outlets reporting the scandal. Amidst it all, Barrington-Coupe denied all allegations of wrongdoing and insisted that he was present at all major sessions, and that the discs were all his wife’s work.
The truth, we now know from his own pen, is different. Robert von Bahr’s BIS records had one of the first identified cases of duplication – the “Hatto” recording of Liszt’s Transcendental Studies exactly matched the soundwaves on Laszlo Simon’s BIS recording. And it was to von Bahr whom Barrington-Coupe wrote his letter of confession.
Although he has made clear that he is not “seeking revenge”, von Bahr kindly agreed to make the substance of the letter known to us, especially as the writer does not bind him to confidentiality. In the letter, Barrington-Coupe explains that he did indeed pass off other people’s recordings as his wife’s, but that he did it to give her the illusion of a great end to an unfairly (as he terms it) overlooked career. (more…)