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Khatia Buniatishvili explores quiet corners of the psyche on 'Labyrinth' / blogcritics

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Khatia Buniatishvili, a pianist knows for both introspection and romanticism, explores quiet corners of the psyche on her new album, Labyrinth. A collection of mostly well-known pieces by a broad variety of composers – from Baroque through contemporary, Couperin through Philip Glass – it's an album to listen to with a glass of wine or two.

Billed as a concept album, Labyrinth is a collage of short works that give the pianist the opportunity to explore human nature from the inside out. It has something of the character of her emotional live performances. The deep, long-held tone that introduces the opening selection, "Deborah's Theme" from Ennio Morricone's Once Upon a Time in America, signals the album's spirit immediately, suggesting a bell tone rung to begin a meditation or a yoga practice.

Buniatishvili gives wide, expansive readings of two of the most familiar tunes in the piano repertoire: Satie's "Gymnopedie No. 1" and Chopin's Prelude Op. 28, No. 4. A sharper mood encroaches with Ligeti's Etude No. 5 "Arc-en-ciel" ("Rainbow") and reaches an explosive height with Buniatishvili's own arrangement for piano four hands of the "Badinerie" from Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 2, on which she's joined by her sister Gvantsa.

Labyrinth spotlights Buniatishvili as a curator with a distinctive perspective as well as a pianist with an unusually sensitive spirit. It's out October 9 on Sony Classical. Listen and pre-order here, and explore your own psyche's most sensitive corners.