COMPOSERS: Brahms,Chopin,Debussy,Grieg,Handel,JS Bach,Ligeti,Liszt,Mendelssohn,Part,Ravel,Scarlatti,Scriabin,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Sony Classical
ALBUM TITLE: Khatia Buniatishvili: Motherland
WORKS: Works by JS Bach, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Ligeti, Liszt, Brahms, Ravel, Chopin. Scriabin, Scarlatti, Grieg, Handel and Pärt
PERFORMER: Khatia Buniatishvili (piano); Gvantsa Buniatishvili (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 88883734622
The content of Khatia Buniatishvili’s concept album on the idea of homesickness fortunately outweighs its laid-on-with-trowel packaging. Behind the flowers, butterflies and soulful photos there lies some very classy piano playing.
Buniatishvili has developed something of a reputation for edge-of-the-seat virtuoso risk-taking. This CD is the absolute antithesis of that: a selection of short pieces evoking atmospheres of longing, sorrow and nostalgia. Universal emotions are at work here; even if you leave the theme aside, you will find something on this CD to enjoy, discover or identify with.
Buniatishvili’s playing is eloquent indeed: her voicing is expertly balanced in the opening Bach transcription and the Ravel Pavane, the phrasing sings wonderfully in the Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Scriabin; the fingerwork is scintillating in the Mendelssohn and Scarlatti. There is a lively guest appearance by Buniatishvili’s pianist sister, Gvantsa, in the Dvoπák Slavonic Dance in E minor, Op. 72 No. 2 for piano duet, and the very high, delicate, otherworldly music of Pärt’s Für Alina makes for a moving conclusion.
The booklet’s explanation of the choice of pieces is a little long-winded; if the disc were truly successful as a coherent collection, so much exposition would not be necessary. Occasionally, too, there isn’t quite enough contrast between these very different pieces. But on the whole these are performances that get under your skin.