By my count this is Khatia Buniastishvili’s eighth album for Sony Classical, her fifth solo piano recital – its title hinting at the twists and turns offered within, where previous records were often straight tributes to heroes (and strictly classical composers – Schubert, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Beethoven, Chopin) here she switches shoes to offer several different dances including a wee flourish of jazz-lite on Serge Gainsbourg’s La Javanaise.
The French-Georgian pianist begins this program with a tribute to Maestro Ennio Morricone, his enduring Deborah’s Theme (from Once Upon A Time In America) gives a stateliness to the album-opening, its followed by Satie’s 3 Gymnopedies and Chopin’s Prelude, the Etudes from Ligeti and Bach’s Air On A G String; all very obvious you might think – but there’s not just mastery at every turn, there’s a playfulness (Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise) and purpose (Villa-Lobos’ Valsa Da Dor) and there’s no concerns with moving from the most obvious choices to some slightly left-of-centre considerations, including another swing by the movie-soundtrack world for I’m Going To Make A Cake from Philip Glass’ beautiful, gently-haunting score for The Hours.
This is an album of nocturnal music, pieces chosen for the quiet hours, for contemplation.
For all Buniatishvili’s mastery this is also a wonderful Beginner’s Guide of sorts; grab-bag, for beginners through to classical purists and trainspotters – it’s both extra for experts and a My First Classical Piano Album in one. No mean feat.
Scarlatti’s Sonata in D Minor, K. 32 and Franz Liszt’s Consolations, S. 172 No. 3 lend pathos and subtlety where the exuberance of the pianist’s ability has a chance to dance and is better showcased with Johannn Sebastian Bach’s Badinerie from Orchestral Suite No. 2 and the gossamer textures of Frederic Chopin’s Prelude, Op 28. No. 4.
If John Cage’s 4’33” seems a gimmick – it’s well placed as penultimate track meaning Bach’s Concerto in D Minor, BMV 974: II Adagio is greeted on this studio selection like a concert encore. (I never nearly applauded!)
I’ve been listening to Khatia Buniatishvili’s playing for half a decade or so and this ‘sampler’-styled collection is wondrous. Hidden depths. Beautiful emotion. Exquisite playing. It might be her finest set – and certainly works as a broad showcase.
You can support Off The Tracks via PressPatron