The Georgian pianist, Khatia Buniatishvili, and her elder sister Gvantsa were introduced to the piano at an early age by their mother, an enthusiastic music lover. Playing four handed remains one of the sisters’ favourite activities. Khatia’s extraordinary talent was recognized when she was very young. Aged 6, she gave her début performance as soloist with an orchestra, and was subsequently invited to give guest performances in Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Russia, Israel and the USA.
Khatia Buniatishvili prefers not to be regarded as a child prodigy: virtuosity for its own sake does not appeal to her. Above all, she embraces pianists from earlier generations such as Sergei Rachmaninov, Sviatoslav Richter and Glenn Gould. She admires her “favourite pianist”, Martha Argerich, for her uniqueness and, as a consequence, does not view Martha Argerich as someone she should try to emulate. And since she regards herself as “wholly a person of the 20th century”, Khatia does not identify so much with pianists of today.
Khatia’s warm, sometimes sorrowful playing may reflect a close proximity to Georgian folk-music, which, she attests, has greatly influenced her musicality. Critics emphasize that her playing has an aura of elegant solitude and even melancholy, which she does not feel to be a negative attribute. “The piano is the blackest instrument,” she says, a “symbol of musical solitude”, which even a pianist must become accustomed to. “I have to be psychologically strong and forget the hall if I want to share it with the audience.”
During her studies at Tbilisi’s State Conservatoire, Khatia Buniatishvili won a special prize at the Horowitz International Competition for Young Pianists in Kiev in 2003 as well as first prize at the Foundation to Assist Young Georgian Musicians competition set up by Elisabeth Leonskaya. At the 2003 Piano Competition in Tbilisi, she became acquainted with Oleg Maisenberg, who persuaded her to transfer to Vienna’s University of Music and Performing Arts. Winner of the Bronze Medal at the 12th Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition in 2008, she was also distinguished as the Best Performer of Frédéric Chopin's piece and as Audience Favourite.
Khatia Buniatishvili has given critically acclaimed solo recitals and chamber music concerts at such renowned venues as London’s Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and the Musikverein in Vienna. In 2008 she made her USA concert début at Carnegie Hall (Zankel Hall), performing F. Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto. The following year she played Felix Mendelssohn’s Double Concerto with Gidon Kremer at the Musikverein, and toured with him and Kremerata Baltica to Milan (La Scala), Rome, Pavia and Istanbul. Other venues include La Folle Journée, Nantes, the Heidelberger Frühling and the Klavier-Festival Ruhr.
A BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist for 2009-2011, Khatia regularly collaborates with BBC orchestras. In 2010 she receiveda Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award and has been nominated by Vienna’s Musikverein and Konzerthaus as a Rising Star for the 2011-2012 season.
Upcoming engagements will see Khatia Buniatishvili perform with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra with Kent Nagano, and the Orchestre de Paris with Paavo Järvi. Recitals will also take her to Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, Tokyo and the Wigmore Hall in London, with further appearances at, amongst other venues, the Verbier Festival, the Rheingau Musik Festival, the Klavier-Festival Ruhr and the MDR Musiksommer.
Khatia Buniatishvili is fluent in five languages and lives in Paris.