Rhapsodizing Khatia Buniatishvili

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Several years ago, in 2017, I found myself at Tsinandali in the Republic of Georgia for the launch of their music festival. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta was performing. They were joined by Khatia Buniatishvili, a dark-haired Georgian pianist who interpreted Schumann with great finesse and other selections dramatically with great gusto. It was a memorable evening, and a memorable performance.

Buniatishvili who was born in Batumi in 1987 has been performing since she was six. Emotion and energy color her performances — from the heart. In her recordings, she has expressed herself through Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and even Enrico Morricone. To watch her is to see the feeling of the piece seize her; to listen is to hear those heightened feelings.

Recently, I came across this video on YouTube of Buniatishvili playing George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, with great delicacy and equal amounts of passion. The pleasure expressed in her performance is infectious. The interplay between her and the conductor and other orchestral performers is something one does not see often enough — a spirit of generosity pervades their interaction in what is also a very soulful and Jazz-filled star turn.

Buniatishvili is currently on tour. She will be performing in France, Italy and Norway in December and early January; then in the US (Beaver Creek, Colorado and Houston, Texas in late January. See her and then, you too, will be in rhapsody.

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