Classical pianist shows off her glories on national TV

Classical pianist shows off her glories on national TV


norman lebrecht

February 05, 2014

If you’re likely to find this tasteless, we apologise. Don’t watch the clip below.

We’ve been sent video of Sony artist Khatia Buniatishvili performing a jig (or jiggle) on Georgian TV. It has been uploaded onto Youtube. It is being watched by people who have never heard her Chopin recording.

We’re not sure what she was thinking. Maybe it got lost in translation.



  • David H. Jun. says:

    What she was thinking? Maybe she was thinking “I’m a free liberated woman and have a beautiful body. I’m proud to show it off a bit and make a little show in this TV *show*.

    It’s not the first time, Buniatishvili shows off her assets.

    • R. James Tobin says:

      Agreed. She looks gloriously happy and free. And she is a brilliant pianist. When I heard her play the Liszt sonata on the radio I found it arresting–and I don’t even like the work. I saw and heard her play a Chopin sonata in the Salle Pleyel in Paris and the way she played the funeral march moved me to tears.

    • Doug says:

      Love the look on the oboists face just before she bows. “So, you really want an A? I’ll give you and A.”

      • A Flutist's View says:

        Love the blonde flutist in the Schumann also! That would be the Spanish talent Clara Andrada of Salamanca, Principal Flute of Frankfurt, and a great beauty in her own right.

        Clara, who’s in almost every shot right behing Khatia, is herself a statuesque stunner who if she came out from behind her music stand would definitely give Khatia a run for her money. (you can google her photos online).

        But Clara is dressed modestly and professionally. You see a bit of her Spanish temperament in the orch. sections where she’s playing, She smoulders, she emotes, she plays flawlessly, and although she easily could, she never once upstages the soloist.

        She’s a younger, blonder version of Khatia, with every bit as much fire, who’s dressed tastefully and gives a good professional image in the orchestra. When Clara appears as soloist, she also puts on a good show, but I was interested to observe here as an orch. player that although she was on camara most of the time, she deferred visually at all times to the soloist. Very professional.

  • Those TV lights can be quite hot … a good way to keep cool under the circumstances! Must be a bit distracting for the first violin section, though. 🙂

    • Actually, my comments were directed towards the Schumann clip. I only looked at the video at the top afterwards. Obviously, someone has taken the TV broadcast and looped the few seconds it must have taken her to get to the stage over and over again. Indeed, quite tasteless IMHO.

      • Hi Robert. I’m not sure, but I don’t think the two videos are even from the same performance. Same dress, but in the 2nd video she is performing with the Hessische Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra (wonderfully) and is wearing an additional garment underneath the dress which reduces certain contours. I mention this as merely a matter of…er…purely musicological interest… (BTW, we had a great time touring in Texas last spring and saw many fields of beautiful blue bonnets.)

        • Dennis says:

          It’s not at all the same dress.

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          I am surprised, shocked – and delighted to see that our friend William Osborne, self-appointed tireless champion of women’s equality, is that interested in exactly what she is wearing in those videos, and if she is wearing underwear…

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        Yes, Robert, you are right, it is quite obvious that she wasn’t “dancing” but that someone looped her entry over and over again. It is funny how some people get so distracted by a little bit of nipples that they don’t see that…

  • What a performance! And her piano playing is quite good too.

  • Yes, talking about the Schumann, of course .

  • CDH says:

    Guess it wasn’t bras day at GUM. Either time.

  • Richard Todd says:

    All I saw was a loop of her walking down the same section of aisle for most of five minutes. There was some suggestion that there might be nipples inside her outfit, which I might have guessed in any case. (I’m kind clever that way)

  • Doug says:

    When it comes to a woman that looks that good, who cares about her musical skills…keep the spotlight on her! Can I stuff a twenty in her garter?

  • ira says:

    much preferable to, and less distracting than, jean-yves thibaudet’s red socks. and if she brings some horny kids to classical music, so much the better.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Oh yes, I am sure countless young people will now discover classical music because they briefly saw Buniatishvili’s nipples on Youtube.

      • Martin says:

        One per nipple would is better than none. See nothing wrong with nipples, most of us used to (or still) suck on them.

  • What’s a girl to do? There’s a visual element to all performance, and with all of the media chatter available today, visuals are a competitive element in attracting audiences. Sure, one can go too far, but let’s face it, classical performances remain rooted in a remote, stodgy, 19th century sartorial style that is off-putting to potential audiences and perhaps generationally unfair. Performers like Buniatishvili and Yuja Wang might breathe a little life into the concert hall and help preserve classical music along the way. As long as the music delivers, the rest is a welcome dessert.

  • LoneStar says:

    Well, you know what they say. You can take a girl out of Georgia but you can’t take Georgia out of the girl.

  • La Buniatushvili delivered a babe-a-licious Grieg in Toulouse, recently. She’s gorgeous and plays superbly, taking risks with fistfuls of wrong notes but offering the audience high-octane commitment. I’ve played the Grieg with orchestra so I know it’s not THAT tricky. Still, I’d rather have Katia’s rollercoaster performance than just about any other recent version I can think of off-hand.

    As for the repetitive dancing nipples, a few years ago I remember Spanish network TV replaying a Raul goal for Real Madrid ad nauseam. The opposing manager eventually remarked: ‘OK, we’ve seen it a thousand times, now, but in the end, it was only one goal’. That said…

  • Lucinda says:

    Guys, look at the context of 1st video. She going braless in a tv show that looks to be the equivalent of “America’s Got Talent”. Check out the stage with the neon x’s, It’s a talent show and it looks like she’s being introduced as a judge. It’s popular TV, It’s not a concert.

    In the video of the Schumann, she’s very obviously is wearing a bra.WHICH I would like to point out is no small task with a dress with no back like that. It takes a lot of effort to find a bra that won’t show with so much of the back exposed. It would be much easier to just skip the bra and go au natural. But to her credit she didn’t.

    So you have to respect the fact that wore a revealing dress, but within professional guidelines. She found a bra that supported her ample cleavage with that dress and didn’t show any straps. Any woman can tell you that requires a lot of effort.

    Mr. Osborne, with your usually impeccable powers of observation, I can’t believe that you would even THINK that the 2 videos are related. One is a TV talent show, the other is a professional concert situation. Of course the dresses are different!

    And for heaven’s sake, look at what Yuja Wang is wearing! Why should SHE hold the monopoly on provocative concert attire? I think it was a Phila. Orch. member who exclaimed when she played with them “Wow, that hooker sure plays the piano well!”

    • “Mr. Osborne, with your usually impeccable powers of observation…” Yes, I have to admit I didn’t really spend a lot of time with this. Now that you mention it, I see they aren’t the same dress. Perhaps the fine Schumann performance distracted my attention. The HRSO also sounds great. Interesting that she’s still a student in Vienna’s University of Music.

    • LoneStar says:

      hi Gvantsa….

  • Michael says:

    Riveting news. Tempora mutantur…

  • dansk66 says:

    But look at the reception she gets on a talk show in Georgia, all those young people know that she is a local hero because she plays the piano so very well. Anyone know if we could get that kind of reception on a UK TV talk show for a classical musician. Never mind the dress, she looks great in anything, it’s how she plays that is important. And she plays great.

    Pity about some of those tasteless comments.

  • Canbridge says:

    Oh big deal! Women in Africa often perform in the choir with a child on the breast.

  • Tom Foley says:

    I think the oboist is wonderful. Such sensitivity.

  • Soavesia says:

    What is the big deal? It’s 2014.

  • says:

    Here are links to some recent reviews of her concerts. The recent recital in Berlin Philharmonie received a review ( in the Berliner Zeitung) bearing the title ‘ The Virtuosity of Boredom’.,10809150,25638270.html

    The reviews in VIenna did not differ much from that, quoting ‘ the dissapointment of interpretative meaninglessness’



    • Geoff says:

      any chance of a full translation?!

      • Darren says:

        I just read them as well. Not very flattering. One of them predicts ‘a possible end of a career’. All 3 reviews are written in different style, but unite in the same thought: there is no music, or thought nor need for music behind the empty virtuosity. I don’t have the time to translate them for you, but google translate should at least give an idea.

        I personally find it sad and ironic that she seems to be destroyed by the very system that created her in the first place.

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          I don’t think the first two reviews are *that* negative. For instance, they say that she played a fabulous Chopin 1st piano concerto in Berlin the year before (“a ravishing combination of stormy temperament with rare sonic refinement”) and that the b minor sonata in her recent Berlin recital was musically very nuanced and convincing. And they acknowledge that her technical command and the sheer power of her playing have few rivals today. The main “complaint” voiced here is that she seems to have a tendency to rely too little on her unquestioned musical abilities and that she seems to want to show off her athletic pianistic abilities more – while it is also underlined that she really doesn’t have to because she has more to say musically. Which is rather, critical, yes, but not in an unsympathetic manner, I think.

          • Darren says:

            Are you sure you read the review well? There was much mention of Kremer’s criticising of the pianists commercial attitudes in his new book, and the sentence ‘ Denn von der poetischen Versenkungskraft, über die sie verfügt, dem Wetterwendischen, das vom Glitzernden sekundenschnell ins Düstere umschlagen kann, blieb streckenweise nur technische Hochartistik – Musik für Karate Kid Khatia.’ basically means that nothing much remaind after the last years Chopin concerto performance, nothing but technical virtuosity. Then the reviewer called her Karate Kid Khatia, That is rather unsympathetic and very critical. The other reviews are much the same.

          • Martin says:

            The reviews write the reality. This pianist excites you, but not much more. Fortunately for her, she can excite with her looks too. Musically though, I fail to remember her performances.

            Same with the thrilling Prokofiev concertos by Yuja Wang. Totally awesome for the moments of the concert, but they don’t give you much more than that excitement of a good night out. But musically the performances are pretty empty.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            Darren says:

            February 8, 2014 at 6:54 pm

            “Are you sure you read the review well?”

            Yes, I think I did. While it is quite critical of her display of “technische Hochartistik” (“technical high wire act”) for its own sake, it doesn’t seem to take Kremer’s critical “Letters to a Young Pianist” too seriously either “weil sie sich einer oft doch allzu betulich schlichten Kommerzialisierungskritik hingeben” (“because they indulge in a somewhat unreflected simplistic form of criticism of commercialization”).

            And it does acknowledge her not only technically, but also musically outstanding abilities, for instance in the passage you quoted when he complains that she places too much emphasis on technical showiness at the expense of “der poetischen Versenkungskraft, über die sie verfügt, dem Wetterwendischen, das vom Glitzernden sekundenschnell ins Düstere umschlagen kann” – which is really hard to translate but it means something like “her talent for poetical meditation” and “her ability to change moods drastically and unpredictably in a split second, from bright sunlight to brooding darkness” – something roughly like that.

            So overall, the review acknowledges that she has outstanding talent and musical as well as technical abilities, it just complains that she relied on the showy parts too much when she really doesn’t need to. That’s very different from saying “this artist has all the technical ability but nothing to say musically”. The reviewer simply wishes she would focus more on those musical abilities he praises.

            At least I hope that that is how he means it – because, remember, at the end of the day, Gregor Dotzauer is just a critic who probably can’t play the piano nearly as well as she can, and she is a pianist who can play extremely well, whether or not she decides to make best use of her talents or not…

    • m2n2k says:

      That is why I prefer to believe my own ears more than published reviews. Recentl I heard her in a live performance of Chopin’s Second Concerto and enjoyed it very much. A minor quibble: some of the pianissimos were exaggerated to the point of near-inaudibility. Other than that, it was an outstanding interpretation – extremely sensitive, gorgeously musical, and successfully realized with brilliant virtuosity. Not even close to being “boring” – riveting would be a much better word for it. After the Concerto she played as an encore the Precipitato from Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata, at a breakneck speed yet with astonishing clarity and precision – a little too fast and lightweight for my taste, but still extremely impressive. As for her slightly transparent dress on a TV show – what’s the big deal? In my opinion, not an issue at all.

  • ed says:

    A wonderful pianist with a free spirit. Loved the dress, and wondered if she was jiggling for Yum Yum Foods (or was it Num Num Foods?)

  • Birds of a feather flock together … she deserves the kind of audience that would attend a concert just to have a glimpse of her nipples. Give me Rudolf Serkin, Isaac Stern, or Dame Myra Hess any day instead. Neither would have ever won a beauty contest (nor ever dream of entering one, for that matter).

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Isaac Stern was actually a violinist, not a pianist. And unfortunately, all of the above wonderful artists are now dead. So you can listen to their recordings any day, but you can’t see and hear them in concert anymore. I love and collect great recordings, too, but it is important to have musicians perform live today, too.

      But you can see Buniatishvili perform in concert today, and if you you choose to, you can also hear her play, live and in recordings, if you can manage to draw your attention away from her nipples and to how she is actually playing. Which, at least in the above video, is interesting enough in itself. So no matter how she dressed, it’s really your problem that you are more focused on how she looks than how she actually plays. I think she is quite pretty, too, but after noticing that, I can also simpy listen to what she does at the piano. I think you can, too, if you try.

  • Michael Schaffer says:

    There is a fleeting resemblance there, two whole tone steps down played by the clarinet, the dotted rhythm, but not much else – different key, different register, different tempo, different musical context, different in what comes afterwards. I don’t think one can call those few notes a theme in itself, it’s just a brief musical element, and I am not sure if Elgar actually intended that passage to be a reference specifically to that brief motif.