Nicholas Spice · Khatia Buniatishvili
Judging by the number of hits on her YouTube clips, the 23-year-old Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili can scarcely be called a discovery, but, when I chanced on her for the first time the other day on Radio 3, her playing came as a revelation to me. She was in the middle of the Schumann C major Fantasy, playing it as if it really meant something to her, and the sense of release in the flow of musical energy was wonderful, creating great emotional intensity without any distortion to the architecture of the piece.
Buniatishvili is incredibly gifted. She has temperament, sensibility and intelligence, and, like the very greatest pianists before her, she has the ability to make the listener hear in the sound of the music the experience of the fingers that are making it. In seeming ourselves to touch, we are touched.
She hasn’t made any recordings yet, so you’ll have to make do with the smattering of fragmentary YouTube clips. I’d start with the various bits and pieces of the Schumann Fantasy, then move to the two extracts from the Brahms Second Piano Concerto (the clip from the second movement is especially startling). There are also extracts from the Chopin B minor Scherzo and the fourth Ballade, snatches of the Liszt Sonata and a frankly incredible performance of the Mephisto Waltz which restores imagination to piano virtuosity and makes you understand what Liszt was all about.