Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 February 2020

Khatia Buniatishvili wows at Abu Dhabi Classics

It was easy to see why Georgia's Khatia Buniatishvili is one of the most talked about artists in classical music circles.
Khatia Buniatishvili performed a solo piano recital at the Manarat Al Saadiyat auditorium as a part of the Abu Dhabi Classics series. Delores Johnson / The National
Khatia Buniatishvili performed a solo piano recital at the Manarat Al Saadiyat auditorium as a part of the Abu Dhabi Classics series. Delores Johnson / The National

Piano recitals are often intimate and emotionally resonant performances.

Some, however, seem designed to showcase a pianist’s technical virtuosity.

Where the French-South Korean Lydie Solomon focused on the former with her delightfully sensitive rendering of Chopin pieces at Al Manarat Saadiayat last October, Georgian Khatia Buniatishvili’s maiden Abu Dhabi visit to the venue on Wednesday resulted in a scenario that was firmly placed in the latter.

It was easy to see why she is one of the most talked-about artists in classical music circles, judging by her ruthless powerhouse of a performance.

The 27-year-old’s programme was a full-throttle affair: any thought of the crowd easing into her repertoire was done away with the opening notes to Chopin’s challenging Polonaise Héroïque Op.53.

There was a chilling efficiency to Buniatishvili, as she effortlessly tore through those fast arpeggios and summoned a dramatic and almost military-esque rhythm in the middle section.

By the end of the piece’s jubilant conclusion, Buniatishvili was nearly on her feet with the crowd exhaling in relief. Perhaps they too felt as if they underwent an audio-cardio session.

Buniatishvili took on a more relaxed approach with Chopin’s shape-shifting piece Mazurka in A Minor, Op.17 No.4.

With the two Liszt pieces, Libestraum No.3 and Mephisto-Waltz No.1, the audience could tell Buniatishvili was at home. Those familiar with her performances would know that she uses her intimacy as a basis for reinterpretation.

The highlight was the former, where a heightened pace skirted the edge of cacophony, only to be clawed back to a hushed conclusion.

The second half of the program found Buniatishvili opening with a haunting take of the Georgian folk song Vaguiorko Ma (Don’t You Love Me), where she summoned grand emotions with the increasing hammering of the Steinway piano.

After her most delicate showing in Debussy’s dream-like Clair de Lune, Buniatishvili concluded the evening with more finger-fire in the form of Ravel’s La Valse, which elicited a dazed standing performance by the sold out audience.

Abu Dhabi Classics continues on February 17 and 18 with a performance by the The Staatskapelle Dresden at Emirates Place and Al Ain’s Al Jahili Fort respectively.

For details go to www.abudhabievents.ae.

sasaeed@thenational.ae

Updated: January 8, 2015 04:00 AM

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