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Khatia Buniatishvili’s disappointing Barbican Corridor recital – Seen and Heard Worldwide

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United KingdomUnited Kingdom Varied: Khatia Buniatishvili (piano). Barbican Corridor, London, 21.3.2024 (CC)

Khatia Buniatishvili

Bach/Liszt – Prelude and Fugue in A minor, S 462/1
Beethoven – Piano Sonatas: No.23 in F minor; ‘Appassionata’, Op.57; No.17 in D minor, Op.32/2, ‘Tempest’
Schubert/Liszt – Ständchen; Gretchen am Spinnrade.
LisztComfort No.3; Hungarian Rhapsody No.6.

There are particular strengths to the enjoying of Khatia Buniatishvili; the main downside is that they hardly ever come collectively coherently. This was an odd recital: the pianist herself had introduced the incorrect begin time on social media, so which may have had one thing to do with the various latecomers, even fairly late into the (interval-less) recital – at one level these latecomers crossed with individuals leaving the recital early, in roughly equal numbers. However the pianist’s personal late begin (round 7.40pm-ish) had me pondering at one level that perhaps 8pm actually was the appropriate begin time, regardless of the live performance ticket’s assurance on the contrary…

It was troublesome guilty the exiters although. Buniatishvili’s interpretations have a tendency in direction of extremes, particularly of dynamics. Good that she performs quietly, and good additionally that her fingers can transfer evenly at such velocity. However little right here was in service of the composers: actually plural within the case of the Bach/Liszt (or, because the programme had it, the Liszt/Bach). The studying of the A minor Fugue was completely different from Buniatishvili’s personal Sony recording in that her interpretative traits had been intensified. The opening within the Barbican Corridor sounded extra like a second hand had been at Bach’s rating: that of Philip Glass. The positives right here had been the evocations of organ grandeur, however why a lot pedal for the fugue topic? This might have been Classical music-lite from our personal century, however what it actually was Bach-demeaned. The outdated trope of over-highlighting fugal entries was definitely current, too. No doubting Buniatishvili’s finger energy, however this did neither Bach nor Liszt any favours.

It appears a double blow to be writing about Buniatishvili’s Beethoven within the mild of the announcement of the demise right this moment (March 23) of one of many nice Beethoven Gamers, Maurizio Pollini. Buniatishvili’s Beethoven accentuates her core failings: impulsiveness to the detriment of the music’s construction, an pointless dwelling on the second. The ‘Appassionata’ might sound excellent for Buniatishvili – she is definitely not missing in ardour – however its monumental construction is unforgiving of the harmonically short-sighted. So it was that Buniatishvili’s first motion lacked vitality, regardless of floor contrasts and loads of prestidigitation. Notes may be correct, however her rhythm was not safe. The central Andante was stop-start, totally devoid of which means, dissonances blunted, the ray of sunshine arrival on the main all however unnoticeable. Unsurprisingly the finale was quick – too quick, for the place is the area for the coda? The place, certainly, was the sense of cumulative drive? One puzzled how the ’Tempest’ would survive.

After the inter-Sonata latecomers had settled, Op.31/2 emerged as higher, if typically nondescript. There was a daring pianissimo on the opening (and Buniatishvili is able to ravishing pps) however juxtapositions appeared contrived. The sluggish motion felt unsettled (with some bass octaves not talking – for all the various notes of Liszt, Beethoven has his personal challenges, considered one of which is that there’s exactly nowhere to cover). The finale felt rushed. Beethoven deserves higher.

Liszt could be very a lot Buniatishvili’s dwelling turf. The 2 Schubert track preparations might need been deceptive in that regard nevertheless, Schwanengsang’s ‘Ständchen’ contrived of rubato and Gretchen am Spinnrade initially higher (a pleasant sense of motion) however supplied in a studying that made the second of the imagined kiss redundant. The Comfort (No.3) was higher, it had move, however the Hungarian Rhapsody, for all its torrents of notes, once more had structural issues. Shifts between sections once more went for nothing; total, it felt curiously literal (even stilted within the slower moments).

There is no such thing as a doubting Buniatishvili’s expertise; however this can be a expertise too usually misaligned with the music. An important disgrace.

Colin Clarke

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