All WAS what it seemed in this picture; but was it always?
All WAS what it seemed in this picture; but was it always?

The above pictures are (almost certainly) of the pianist Sergio Fiorentino playing Bach. I say “almost certainly” because you are never quite sure(even as far back as the early 60s) with the recorded productions of William Barrington-Coupe, Joyce Hatto’s husband!I won’t repeat the story , which can be found all over the web; but will give some additional historical information and some references to my collection of odd, pseudonymously recorded LPs of this era(some produced by BC) and to my (probably!) echt Joyce Hatto early vinyl recordings(pictures of which I will produce when I can actually find the LPs!)

1. I own a number of recordings which are almost certainly(again!)by the REAL Joyce Hatto: these include: Gershwin Piano Concerto(uploaded onto u-tube by someone else), “Music from the Films” and Rachmaninov Piano concerto 2. Plus, what is thought to be the last recording the real Joyce made, in 1971, Bax:”Symphonic Variations”(this last is 100% genuine having been testified to by the late Vernon Handley who conducted the orchestra for the recording); plus 2/3 others.I find her(likely to be real)recordings good, not outstanding but proficient and there is a lovely, sensitive recording on U-Tube of a Rachmaninov prelude, which was an add-on to her Rachmaninov 2 recording for Saga) But:

2. This is part of a bigger picture:From about 1960, BC was involved in working for and producing a number of bargain basement labels and their products(usually on poor quality vinyl) for a new cheap range of LPs, selling for 10 shillings. Starting with working for Saga records(which had its own even cheaper Fidelity label and morphed into ARC, Allied Records, prefixes XID/STXID. FDY/STFDY), he went on to create his own companies, in, as far as I can tell,this order (but again the waters are murky and there may be some overlaps):

Delta(prefixes DEL and SDEL;TQD and STQD;with its sister cheap label Fidelio(ATL, mono only I think)

Summit(the above picture has a Fidelio record number prefix but is labelled Summit and refers to “Combined Sales Ltd”!), prefix LSU!

Some were labelled, proudly, “A Production of W.H.Barrington-Coupe ” on the back of the sleeve!

Concert Artist(also Concert Artist/Fidelio), which continued till the fraud story broke, in 2007.CD prefix CACD.

Revolution records, which proudly issued the Bax referred to, as its 001, in 1971, followed by a number of quite beautifully produced releases before it too became defunct or metamorphosed, for whatever reason

There was also a particuarly intransigently undetectable period when BC made recordings on cassette(the Hatto recordings of this period have never been proved as genuine or not, as far as I am aware, but are more or less unobtainable now).

Whilst some of the releases from these various entities recorded REAL, not pseudonymicised artists(Saga recorded Janet Baker very early in her career; Delta the Aeolian Quartet, for example), many of their orchestral “productions” were of (usually) behind-the-Iron-Curtain recordings of classical works with sometimes invented orchestra names(Danzig Philharmonic, which HAD been a bona fide orchestra but had ceased to exist BEFORE the record’s issuance!; the Zurich Municipal Orchestra). A lot of this was done for contractual reasons, on the fringe of legality, as many of the conductors would have had contracts with other labels.Solo artists got fake names: Sondra Bianca, Paul Procopolis(some of whose recordings are now claimed to be by the {genuine name} Sergio Fiorentino, but who knows?!); and then BC started to go over-the-top and used names like “Wilhelm Havagesse”{sic!} and “Helda Wobbler”,that well known soprano with a terrible vibrato in her voice{oh it was Joan Sutherland at the end of her careeer: ONLY JOKING!}. He began , in other words, to satirise the whole pseudonymizing process.

The (in)famous Paul Procopolis(??Sergio Fiorentino), who appeared often and even "recorded" "The Best Loved Piano Pieces Ever" type album
The (in)famous Paul Procopolis(??Sergio Fiorentino), who appeared often and even “recorded” “The Best Loved Piano Pieces Ever” type album

So it always surprises me that people didnt see the c. 2002 Hatto scam as coming(BC had also been in prison for tax fraud)


What is it that is so fascinating, and even uncanny,about these 1960s bargain label recordings, pseudonymous names or not, Joyce Hatto(obviously adding a further layer of uncanniness, in the light of events yet, at that stage, to unfold)or not?I have happened upon two or three other bargainvinylomanaics/philes, so I am not alone(as I am not in my love of obscure railway halts!Dyfi junction has its own twitter feed!); and there was even a radio 4 programme about them, some few years ago!

Well, I became interested in classical music aged 12 and these cheap labels were an affordable way of buying the classics and the byeways of the recorded repertoire(Turnabout was another fascinating label worth a whole posting, with pictures of their camp, extravagant cover designs!). nothing uncanny/odd about that; but the labels I have talked about-Saga, Fidelio, etc- were available at two DECIDEDLY spectral outlets: WH Smith kiosks in two extremely desuetudinous railway stations in Liverpool, which haunted my teenage years(UNconsciously) and haunt me, consciously,in my early 50s, now: Liverpool Central old high level station, (the site of which is to be built on by Liverpool Central Village, uncannily, again, next to Lewis’s, with which it is to be part of the same development), closed in 1972; and Liverpool Exchange station, closed 1977(which has the frontage still extant, behind which is NOTHING, an opening to a ghostly world of a carpark, flanked with the original walls of the station). Both were haunting in their own ways: Exchange had , even by 1977, a closed down hotel as its blackened frontage and quirky little shops,( at one of which I got my spectacles):think Manchester Victoria now; it was in that kind of semi -ruined condition. Central high level was something else, however: a hellhole of a deserted large trainshed, with 2 railway lines running out of it(google it!). The two kiosks, where I bought some of these records, certainly remained open till near the end of the lives of their respective carapaces of stations. So, hence the spectral/ uncanny architecture association of the records; as well as the attraction of the obscure for the sake of it, a sort of benjaminesque concern for the (defunct) byeways of capitalism, and for the underdogs(of the music industry). There was an uncanniness in some of the recordings too: at one level risible, almost camp(so bad they were good; but really just kitsch or plain bad):I remember two “recordings” in especial: Schubert 9 on Saga’s supercheap Fidelity label(with a probably pseudonymous conductor), sounding as if recorded in a cave; Beethoven “Eroica”, similarly of the bath-tub variety of production, again probably under alias performers, this time on Woolworth’s rival cheap label, Allegro; there was even one label recorded, as late as probably the 70s, which recorded on BREAKABLE material!-Gala. Add to this the hauntology of the fact that, NOW, these are remnants of an ACTUAL mainly defunct ideology, command economy Communism(recordings often sourced from, eg former DDR orchestras)- and a whole constellation of the spectral and uncanny reveals itself, bit by bit.

The psychology of the whole Hatto/BC affair is itself uncanny: did BC do all this faking out of love for his wife, ie that she had never attained fame as a concert pianist, or was there (also?)an element of the wide-boy in there; there is the legendary association with Joe Meek(BC produced “Telstar”); and, generally, all the imaginariness, dark fairytale world of the machinations of the 60s “Barry” and the later incarnation of himself in the 2000s.A sort of psycho-social-historico spectral geography of vinyl, as a mirror of a twisted personal psychologies. Anyway, make up your own mind…I leave you(till we come to “Turnabout”!) with pictures of my only fake Hatto!


Published by: decayetude


Categories UncategorizedTags, , , , , , , 22 Comments


  1. Hi Steve

    I have the LP of Joyce Hatto playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.
    You want pictures of the jacket and label? Provide me with your e-mail and I’ll send you the photographs.

    Kind regards
    Cor de Vrieze
    The Netherlands

      1. Hi Steve

        I’m sorry, but I haven’t the Mozart Concerti on Delta.

        KInd regards

  2. Sondra Bianca is an American pianist who recorded for smaller labels like Concert Hall records . She recorded in Germany for Dave Millers Somerset records With Hans Jurgen Walther and these records have been released on other American bargain labels With pseudonyms .

  3. Dave Miller was a pioneer of bargain lps and made a lot of records in Hamburg using the North german Radio Orchestra With various genuine conductors .This orchestra was also used for his successful 101 strings records .He also had the London Philharmonic under contract for a time With records conducted by Adrian Boult and Hugo Rignold .Most of these records were available in the Uk on the Pye Golden Guinea or Marble Arch record label .His label in the states was Somerset records which he eventually sold to Alshire records while remaining as an adviser .I think some of his Product found its way to even cheaper labels using pseudonyms .

  4. To bring this together there ia a record on Dave Millers European Boulevard label of Joyce Hatto playing Rhapsody in Blue . Its apparently very similar or identical to a performance by Sondra Bianca With Hans Jurgen Walther conducting the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra of Hamburg .

  5. By the way I cant wait for Your views on the Turnabout label .Vox Turnabout records were another great pioneer of Budget lps made With cheap Labour in Europe .I`m a bit of Voxbox collector and have loads of them . Thanks for a great site

  6. Thanks for all ur obscure yet informative comments, Alan:) I am Vox/Turnabout/Candide freak; also Saga, Delta(anything Barry did in his many re-incarnations) and own some obscure stuff along these lines, eg the Boulevard Hatto Gershwin. I LOVE M. Ponti, the greatest ever pianist! Happy to chat on re such glorious issues:P:) 🙂 Steve

    1. I have today acquired from my good friend Nigella recordings on DELTA by Auguste du Maurier. Chopin’s waltzes, etudes and scherzi. In our school record library I was always borrowing Auguste’s record of the F Minor concerto, which became my favourite concerto: I am always looking out for this LP, which had a bright orange cover, I recall. At this period I was listening to the distorted broadcasts of the 1975 Chopin International Piano Competition on Radio Warsaw, late at night – medium wave was subject to something called ‘fading’ in those far-off days. I have some of Fiorentino’s records on Saga. Was Auguste perhaps one of Sergio’s noms de jouer?

      1. vaguely remember, Nicole, that Ernest Lumpe said du Maurier was Fiorentino pseudonym(together with “Paul Procopolis”!). Yes, again vaguely, I recall listening to UK Radio 3 on poor quality medium wave. I have loads of Fiorentino on Revolution, Delta etc. What a spectral collection of nom-de-plumes, illusion/allusion and downright deceit! Fascinating in a ghostly way! Thanks for your interest:) If u want to correspond re these recordings, my email is””

  7. The rather aristocratic George Mendelssohn started Vox Records in New York in 1947 but With the advent of the long playing record in 1950 realised the vast potential of this New medium . This was the golden era of small independant record Companies in America . Mendelssohns main area of interest was classical Music and claimed to be a descendant of the Composer Mendelssohn . Cultural life was being reesstablished in the former Third Reich ,and through his contacts With occupation authorities in the US sector he was able to obtain the services of orchestras in Vienna ,Stuttgart and Baden Baden And Bamberg .To keep costs down , time allowed for rehearsal and recording would have been Limited . Reviewers of the early Vox records often remark on the scrappy orchestral playing .His main orchestra was the Vienna Symphony , but after they signed an exclusive contract With Philips in 1952 , he had to start calling it the Vienna Pro Musica .He also employed the services of distinguished but out of contract conductors and soloists such as Klemperer Horenstein Perlea and Novaes With non royalty contracts . The records were often praised for the performances but criticised for the scrappy and undernourished string sound .But there wasnt so much to choose from back then so if you wanted a Mahler Symphony you probably had to get the Vox Version .To obviate the need for expensive orchestras Menelssohn next seemed to concentrate more on Chamber Music and solo piano Music .His NeXT innovation was the Vox Box which were two or Three record sets With which you could obtain the Complete piano Works or Chamber Works of a particular composer . These would sell very well to Public Librarys .Mendelssohn was also an astute talent scout and signed up young pianists like Alfred Brendal Walter Klein and Peter Frankl .With business booming Vox also had Offices in Paris and London . Vox s golden period in the UK was in the 60s and early 70s while they had a deal With British Decca to manufacture and distribute Vox and its sub label Turnabout in the UK . Everybody collecting classical back then can remember With affection the attactively packaged and beautifully pressed Turnabout records which at one point seemed to be taking over the entire store .They were good quality and quite cheap and a great way of obtaining Mozart piano concertos or Beethoven Piano sonatas .Unfortunately when Decca went bust or got taken over in the 70s Vox Turnabout disappeared from the radar in Britain .Presumably having made a fortune George Mendelssohn sold the Company and it struggled on into the age of the cd . They reissued lots of their catalogue onto cd in the 90s and as recently as 2005 .But as the cd market has collapsed they almost only exist in name now .There is a website but it hasnt changed much over the last few years .Happily there are lots of their CDs to be bought on the web for reasonable prices .

  8. Me too I love the bargain classics .I have quite a few Sagaand Deltas but no Hatto unfortunately .I have alot of Ponti on cd .

  9. Steve ,you may have heard the story of the ever cost-conscious George Mendelssohn having Michel Ponti sleeping in the studio and recording the Scriabin piano sonatas on an upright piano .

  10. Steve ,you may have heard the story of the ever cost-conscious George Mendelssohn having Michel Ponti sleeping on the studio floor in a sleeping bag when recording the Scriabin piano sonatas on an upright piano .

  11. Saga records was an offshute of the firm Saga films started by the classical pianist Leonard Cassini .Barry joined the firm , became a director in 1958 and set up Saga Records Ltd which almost immediately went bust .The Company was sold to Marcel Rod`s Allied Records in 1961 and seemed to last up till the early 70s .About this time (1960) Barry started up Delta-Fidelio- Summit Records or whatever you want to call it .Both Leonard Cassini and Joyce Hatto , who he had married in 1956 , made records for his label .Leonard Cassini had been married to the actress Maxine Audley at one time .Maxine Audley had a daughter from another marriage called Debbie Granville .Debbie sang in a Group I played drums in called “Just Good Freinds” .This would have been in 1977 and we played in a nightclub called the Rheingold Club in Sedley Place just off Oxford Street .Maxine Audley came Down to see us a couple of times . This Club was part owned by a German guy who had been a top violinist playing for major orchestras like the Vienna Philharmonic . During the war he was in the Afrika Korps and got captured by the British .Anyway he was brought back to England and they got him to set up a band to play German Dance Music on the British propaganda broadcasts to Germany during the remaining period of the war .Later he and his business partner bought the racehorse Rheingold which they later sold for a million pounds .They named the Club after it .

  12. Thanks for all your comments and stories, Alan. I knew re Mendelssohn and the Ponti story:) I have some echt Hattos: the Gershwin, Rach 2 etc. Saga, under the guise Allied Records, survived till the early 80s where it was run by the people who created Hyperion records. Yes, B-C is fascinating in so many, slightly eerie ways: some LPs would even come out with eg Delta packing and Summit suffix!!! Then Summit became Con(cert) Artist, or even just “A Barrington-Coupe production”. I believe the first (Delta/Fidelio) LPs were 1960 but I may be wrong!.It is a murky world (hence the psychogeography) but an ever intriguing one. Re Vox, they are now Musical Concepts, run by Todd Landor and/or Gene Gaudette; and are still re-issuing cds, even some new ones, when I last looked at Musical Concepts site; eg the first cd (re)issue of the complete Rach solo piano works(Ponti again) came out a couple of years ago. I love Ponti: his Scriabin, whatever the risible recording conditions, best captures the composer’s nervile fire; his Newport live Tannhauser(arr. Liszt) overture has to be heard to be believed; similarly the Tausig “Fantasy on themes from Moniuszko’s Halka”(Vox). Interestingly and poignantly, before he had his stroke in about 1998, he made a rare series for the now defunct Dante label, and he did ONE recording, sadly, of his new project of recording the old warhorses(as opposed to the Romantic era rareities of hitherto); he also RE-recorded about 10 of these Vox rareities for Dante.This one release, the Rach 3, brings tears to the eyes in its passion, sensitivity, power and sheer idiosyncratic beauty; he gave it his last inch; it is his last commercial recording, as far as I can discover. So sad but what a legacy; Amazon/Ebay occasionally have copies.

  13. I`ve got a feeling you`re a rather more serious or expert listener than me Steve ,but I will definately pay more attention to my Ponti CDs .I certainly liked the Sciabin when I heard them .One of my all time favourite records was or is Svetlanov conducting Scriabin`s 1st symphony on his first studio recording on Mk records .I thought this was a fantastic work and incredibly neglected .But there are quite a few versions around now .I quite like Inbahl`s Version .Nothing matches the Svetlanov though ,it is just one of those records .
    I`ve got a copy of The Gramophone long playing record catalogue from Dec 1962 in front of me and its interesting to note that an LP cost 2 pounds , which was about a days wages .On the inside is full page ad. for Vox Poductions G.B. Ltd. This is when they were going it alone before the Decca tie up .All the usual suspects from Vienna , Stuttgart and Baden Baden were there .Vox never deleted anything .On page 6 we have a side for Delta record Company Limited , declaring themselves to be “First in Field again and again” .There is not a pseudonym in sight , but they did tend to use alot of Vox material .One is Alfred Brendal playing Liszt .Obviously Barry had substantial dealings With George Mendelssohn .

  14. Saga really became a super Budget label after Marcel Rod took over. His 10 shilling Fidelity label would have been a response to Barrys Fidelio label . I dont think Barrys initial releases on the Delta label were so cheap . In 1950s American Companies were putting out lots of recordings of tapes from German radio stations obtained legally or illegally in the chaos following WW2 .Many distinguished artists were involved and they were often tapes of radio broacasts .All records from these Sources used pseudonyms .These recordings hit the stores in the Uk sometime in the 1960s on American Pickwick`s UK based Allegro Records also for 10 shillings (50 pence) .Real records shops didnt seem to sell these ,but they were a fixture at Woolworths .Many of the artists on these records have been identified from their incarnations on the American Royale label ,which Pickwick must have bought up at some stage .

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