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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting debut, 29 Aug 2012
By 
Graham Mummery (Sevenoaks, Kent England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Franz Liszt (Audio CD)
On the cover of this CD there is a quote from Kahtia Buniatishvili saying that her "first recording would have to be a portrait of Liszt. Only he would enable me to present as a unity the many aspects of my soul."

To English ears, I suspect this may sound self-indulgent. I remember a review in one newspaper saying that surely thing to do was to present the composer's soul. This is of course the approach pianists like Alfred Brendel (himself, a great Liszt interpreter incidentally) also espouse. It's an admirable aim. But Liszt, from reports, may have been more of a virtuoso like Horrowitz or Argerich. Thus Ms Buniatishvili might argue that she is following Liszt's spirit more closely.

The truth of course is that Liszt is bigger than all of them. Though he wrote pieces meant to show off the piano and his technique, there are also those meant to be reflective as well. And possibly some that show both sides.

This never more so than in the great B-minor Sonata on this disk. This is probably the work of Liszt I love and know best. It has sufficient spiritual content to be of interest to the likes of Barenboim or Brendel, as well as the virtuoso content for Argerich and Horowitz to show off their technique. Of the two poles, Ms. Buniatishvili fits more into the latter. Her technique is formidable. She is, perhaps, better in the virtuoso sections than the reflective ones (where recordings by some of the above have the edge), but I suspect this will come in time. This is still a performance to treasure, and enjoy over repeated listening.

I have not the slightest reservation about her rendition of the "Liebestraum." This is gorgeous, sensual and dreamy. Music to swoon into. "La Lubrigea Gondola" (the Sad Gondola) perhaps written marking the death of Wagner, is suitably dark and funerial. The "Mephisto Waltz" has been a problem piece for me, but the playing here wins me over. The final piece, the "Prelude and Fugue in A minor (after Bach)" is an intriguing transcription in homage to Liszt's great predecessor.

All-in-all, the playing is exuberant, exciting and beautifully recorded. A marvelous debut which night serve as a great introduction to Liszt's piano music.
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2 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Khatia plays freely and intensively like Argerich in LISZT SONATA IN B MINOR S 178, 8 Jun 2011
This review is from: Franz Liszt (Audio CD)
Liszt
LIEBESTRAUM IN A FLAT MAJOR - NOTTURNO S 541 / 3
SONATA IN B MINOR S 178
MEPHISTO WALTZ NO. 1 (THE DANCE IN THE VILLAGE INN) S 514
LA LUGUBRE GONDOLA S 200 / 2
PRELUDE AND FUGUE IN A MINOR S 462/1 (after Bach BWV 543)
Khatia Buniatishvili, piano
Recorded: 2010

Piano Sonata in B minor
Analysis from wikipedia.de

1 - 7: frame
8 - 13: jumping motif
13 - 17: hammer strikes (Hammerschlag)
18 - 29: jumping motif elements
30 - 39: jumping motif elements and hammer strikes (alternated)
40 - 44: jumping motif elements
45 - 54: free ascending notes
55 - 81: jumping motif with continuation
82 - 104: frame in bass

The sub-theme begins from above

105 - 119: Grandioso-motif (in three-two time, the first motif of sub-movement)
120 - 140: jumping motif (go back to in four-four time)
141 - 152: hammer strikes
153 - 170: double length hammer strikes (the second motif of sub-theme)
170 - 190: jumping motif elements in bass
190 - 196: double length hammer strikes and frame
197 - 204: short solo-cadenza
205 - 231: jumping motif and reflect
232 - 238: solo-cadenza
239 - 254: cadenza with accompaniment
255 - 269: hammer strikes elements with cadenza-elements
270 - 277: jumping
278 - 286: frame
286 - 296: jumping motif with continuation
297 - 300: Grandioso-motif (in three-two time)
301: recitative (free)
302 - 305: Grandioso-motif (in three-two time)
306 - 310: recitative
310 - 314: hammer strikes
315 - 318: jumping motif elements
319 - 330: hammer strikes with expanded jumping motif by right hand

The middle movement begins from here

331 - 348: Lyrical Andante sostenuto - melodious theme (in three-four time)
349 - 362: double length hammer strikes with cadenza-elements
363 - 380: Grandioso-motif in half of length
381 - 384: approach to jumping motif
385 - 394: jumping motif
395 - 415: Varied Andante sostenuto - melodious theme
415 - 432: passage with frame elements (descending notes in bass)
433 - 445: double length hammer strikes
446 - 459: frame

The recapitulation begins from here

460 - 523: Fugato by jumping motif and hammer strikes
524 - 530: jumping motif followed by skillful sixteenth notes
531 - 540: jumping motif alternated with hammer strikes, followed by sixteenth notes
541 - 554: sixteenth notes
555 - 569: chord and sixteenth notes
569 - 581: jumping motif alternated with hammer strikes in bass
582 - 599: passage and hammer strikes
600 - 615: recapitulation of Grandioso-motif, presented in B Major from bar 600
616 - 650: double length hammer strikes followed by solo-cadenza

Coda can be separated from the section here and all the motifs are presented in reverse order

650 - 672: Stretta: double length hammer strikes, jumping motif elements
673 - 681: Presto: descending quarter notes
682 - 699: Prestissimo: chord and eighth notes
700 - 710: Grandioso-motif (in three-two time) with variation (with accompaniment of 9 quarter triplets instead of 12 eighth notes per bar)
711 - 728: Lyrical Andante sostenuto - recapitulation of melodious theme (four-four time)
728 - 736: "Original" - hammer strikes in bass (B Major)
737 - 743: jumping motif shared by both hands, without parallel eighth notes
743 - 749: chord
750 - 754: frame
755 - 760: closing chord

In a review I read Martha Argerich praised Khatia Buniatishvili. But I think Khatia herself also respects Argerich, because Khatia plays freely and intensively like Argerich in LISZT SONATA IN B MINOR S 178. I like her strong Hammerschlag (the sound like hammer), which she plays at bar 33. But I regret her lyrical expressions are sometimes rough (I want a more skillful Andante sostenuto of the track 3). At Grandioso (bar 297 - 300, 9' 44 of the track 2) she plays with fortissimo, and at Grandioso (bar 302 - 305, 10' 27 of the track 2) she plays fortissimo a little weaker, that is impressive for me, because bar 297 - 300 are fff and 302 - 305 are ff. The trill of the bar 362 is beautiful (I think she plays Steinway). The fugue is very exciting. She reaches a climax after the fugue before Stretta quasi Presto (bar 650). And she reaches another climax again after Stretta quasi Presto. The triplets of Grandioso (bar 297 - 300) are played effectively (7' 01 of the track 4). And it's beautiful from the bar 737 to the finish.
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Franz Liszt by Khatia Buniatishvili (Audio CD - 2011)
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