Khatia Buniatishvili

Motherland

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As she has demonstrated in her critically acclaimed albums of the keyboard music of Liszt and Chopin, Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili is a stunning virtuoso with impressive skills and her dynamic playing compels listening. However, for her 2014 Sony album, Motherland, she finds subtle expressions in her favorite character pieces, and none of them could be considered showstoppers. Most of the selections reflect calm and intimate moods, typified by Bach's Sheep May Safely Graze, Tchaikovsky's Autumn Song, Debussy's Clair de lune, and Ravel's Pavane pour une infante défunte, while the liveliest pieces, which include Mendelssohn's Song Without Words in F sharp minor, György Ligeti's Musica Ricercata No. 7, Dvorák's Slavonic Dance in E minor, and Scarlatti's Sonata in E major, offer rather modest displays of technique. Instead of dazzling her listeners, Buniatishvili is putting forward her personal, private side in this understated program, and the key to her selections is the sense of yearning that these pieces evoke. The most passionate outpouring of emotion comes in her own arrangement of Vaguiorko ma, a Georgian folk song that surely must hold a special place in her emotional world. Because this is a gentle and poignant album, listeners may find it is best appreciated in a quiet space with few distractions.

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