With a toss of the hair and a playful lip bite, Khatia Buniatishvili makes Modest Mussorgsky sound anything but bashful – and the otherwise stuffy world of classical music just can’t get enough.
The long-dead composers she plays might have written some jazzier rhythms if they knew they’d be brought to life by a woman whose whole body sways and bounces with every arpeggio. The tension builds as the audience is left wondering whether her low-cut dress can keep her sufficiently covered as she pounds the keys harder and harder towards the climax, before the joyous burst of deafening applause.
Best thing is, Buniatishvili has the chops for Chopin. A Georgian-born former child prodigy who speaks five languages and now lives in France, she is considered one of a handful of top pianists in the world.
‘La Beyoncé du piano’, as she is sometimes called in her adopted homeland, she is a flawless technician whose manicured fingers move with jaw-dropping speed and precision.
Turn off the lights, put on a blindfold, and play one of her recordings with the world’s top orchestras, and that same vivacity, passion and sorrow come through every note.
As for the artist herself, she doesn’t mind being discussed for her revealing wardrobe – she says her sense of style doesn’t take away from her talent, but adds to it.
“There are different manners of expressing ourselves. The more you are yourself, the more you are somehow original to others,” she says.
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