One of the great things about the Internet is how it allows you to travel the world and experience a myriad of experiences, all from the comfort of your couch at home. It was during one of these virtual voyages that I discovered Khatia Buniatishvili. I admit it was her looks that first drew my curiosity; soon, however, I was mesmerised by the French-Georgian pianist’s virtuosity at the keyboards.
There is a recording of Buniatishvili on YouTube playing Sergei Rachmaninov’s fiendishly demanding Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor Op 18, one of my favourites, at a concert in Turin. Her performance is tantalising, her brava drawing in the audience beyond just the notes that rise from the ivories. It is a very personal and even provoking reading of this monumental concerto. More than there, there is an immediacy in her playing, one that belies the huge musicscape that she navigates. Even viewed from a distance, there’s no doubting the steel and poise in Buniatishvili’s playing.
Another performance, this time featuring Debussy’s magical Clair de Lune, expresses sublimity of difference kind. Fully expressive, Buniatishvili draws from the music an otherworldly grace, most apparent in the way she allows the final bars of music to ever so wispily float away into the air for a breathtaking moment of lingering silence.
It is, perhaps, then not too much of a surprise that Buniatishvili recently became an ambassador for the house of Cartier. The Maison, after all, personifies as much of the steel and grace that the pianist has demonstrated in her career and life.
The Sony Classical exclusive artist has ever demonstrated strength of character, virtuosity, open-mindedness and piercing intellect since making her piano debut at the age of three. There always has been fearless about the way she has stood out: giving her first concert as a soloist with the Tbilisi Chamber Orchestra at six; earning first place during the admission examinations of the Tbilisi Conservatory at 16; and then repeating the feat three years later at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts.
Away from the concert hall, Buniatishvili is just as committed, always willing to invest in contemporary issues: child development, refugee aid, climate justice, communicating her passion to these causes with a mix of rock and rebellious energy.
For Cyrille Vigneron, President and CEO of Cartier International: “Khatia expresses the essence of who we are. Pure simplicity and expressive romanticism. Delicate exuberance. Unique and universal. Plural singularity. Body and soul, with measure and unbridled energy Khatia embarks us into the dizzying exploration of human emotions and passion.”
Charismatic, singular and glamorous, Buniatishvili deservedly joins a long and dazzling rank of women who have forged strong connections to Cartier. As she says: “Accepting inessential human needs makes them measurable, prevents their growth into greed. This is how I see Cartier – the golden proportion of glamour… never less, never too much.”