Thursday, February 14, 2013

CLASSIC: Khatia Buniatishvili, Wigmore Hall (

The Independent( Khatia Buniatishvili and Alice Sara Ott have more than their youth and keyboard skillin common: they both enjoy the dubious privilege of being their record companies’ pianistic pin-ups.

Buniatishvili is a fiery Georgian who made her name with Liszt. Her playing has sometimes been erratic, but this Wigmore recital reflected an Olympian assurance. One had doubts as the opening phrases of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No 2 came and went in impetuous little gusts, but as the first movement took shape her strategy proved to have a persuasive logic. And that carried over into the machine-gun staccatos and demonic chromatic-octave runs of the second movement, before sailing into the sweetly-drifting lyrical section. The contours of the funeral march were deftly limned, with the martial theme approaching through the mists, ringing out majestically, then receding back into them; Buniatishvili’s preternaturally smooth solution to the perennial challenge of the Presto took the breath away. And so it went on, with Chopin’s second and third Scherzos delivered with a touch by turns subtle and electrifying, and all rounded off with accounts of Ravel’s ‘La valse’ and a Prokofiev toccata which - despite their crazy momentum - were technically flawless. Here we could see why Martha Argerich had singled her out as a successor, because this was world-beating stuff.

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