Much like those eminently satisfying reports of wine experts preferring £4 Sainsbury’s plonk in a blind taste test, Gramophone magazine finds that an obscure pianist who built a cult following on the back of an astonishing variety of accomplished performances in the years before her death actually just nicked the music off other people. Entire CDs, with track orders intact, were repackaged with her name. AND NOBODY FIGURED IT OUT until some dude stuck a CD into his iTunes, which automatically connected to the Compact Disk Database. The CDDB is a service which identifies CDs by their “fingerprint” – a crude system that looks at the exact length of tracks down to the millisecond, the number of tracks, and says “well this CD simply MUST be [x]”. In this case, it identified Joyce Hatto’s CD of Liszt’s 12 Transcendental Studies as being, well, Lászlo Simon’s CD of Liszt’s 12 Transcendental Studies. The archives were immediately checked and loads of Hatto’s stuff turned out to be by other people.

All of which immediately provokes two questions.

First, has classical music now reached a saturation point of recording when not even professionals have the ability to recognise identical versions of famous pieces?

Second, should these professionals perhaps stop putting us all on that they can distinguish the subtle nuance they say they can and do something more useful than complain about the “flat colouring” of the soprano section in the second act of a three-champagne opera?