Kaleidoscope – Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; Ravel: La valse; Stravinsky: Three Movements from Petrushka

Reviewed on Wed 20 Apr, 2016

Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili’s latest recording will strongly divide opinion. In the Mussorgsky Pictures gone is the Promenade’s confident swagger as she nervously enters the gallery and witnesses an exhibition painted using finest details and also the brashest of crass statements.

Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili’s latest recording will strongly divide opinion. There are positives: her formidable technique; the instrument is very well prepared and tuned; the recorded sound is excellent throughout (if almost a touch too forceful in the forte passages, of which there are several); and the programme is interesting, with the most arresting performance of Ravel’s La Valse encountered for some time. The questionable aspects: Buniatishvili’s Mussorgsky interpretation – gone is the Promenade’s confident swagger as she nervously enters the gallery and witnesses an exhibition painted using finest details and also the brashest of crass statements. The negative points: Mussorgsky and Stravinsky are played on an overtly orchestral scale. Due to this key moments lose impact – for example, the transition into 'The Great Gate of Kiev'. Stravinsky’s three Petrushka movements verge on being a psychotic episode at the keyboard, whilst the pretentious booklet interview is superfluous. So, is Buniatishvili an artist to be taken seriously? Yes, if more so in other repertoire. Here she’s likely to infuriate as much as she pleases. You have been warned!
–Evan Dickerson