The extremely gifted young Georgian pianist is devoting her debut album on Sony Classical, available July 5, to Franz Liszt in celebration of the composer’s 200th birthday this fall. Although Buniatishvili sees herself as belonging truly to the 21st century, like the Romantics she looks for greatness in small things and for the universal in the individual. In the music of Liszt, she seeks and finds her idea of musical completeness and pianistic perfection, saying that "only he would enable me to present as a unity the many aspects of my soul."
On the recording, Buniatishvili begins with Liszt’s third Liebestraum, a story of the intensity and passion of love which is also characterized by the thought from Goethe’s Faust: “O stay! Thou art so fair!”. The centerpiece of the recording, however, Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor, is technically one of the most demanding works ever written for piano. It caused a stir in Liszt’s lifetime because of its innovative orchestral treatment of the piano and because it consists of only one movement, encompassing an abundance of characters and types of motion in one single, great span.
The next piece on the recording is Liszt’s first Mephisto Waltz (“The Dance in the Village Tavern”), which was inspired by an episode in Nikolaus Lenau’s Faust poem: Amid the demonic dance set off by Mephisto, full of staccato harmonies, lightning scales, and sudden changes of harmony, appears a delicate voice that can be decoded as that of the loving Gretchen. Liszt composed La Lugubre Gondola, which follows, shortly before the death of his son-in-law Richard Wagner, after Liszt had stayed with Wagner in Venice for some time. The work ends with a whole-tone scale and the note G sharp, leading into the key of the last piece on the recording, Liszt’s arrangement of Bach’s transfiguring Prelude and Fugue in A Minor.
Khatia Buniatishvili stands at the outset of a promising career and is regarded as one of the great pianists of the future. Martha Argerich praised her astonishing musical imagination and brilliant virtuosity. Gidon Kremer, who sees her as one of the greatest talents of recent years, chose Buniatishvili as his chamber music partner at venues including the Lockenhaus Festival and the Wiener Musikverein.