Khatia changes image

According to a Figaro feature, she has become the Betty Boop of the piano.

Well, someone had to be…

photo (c) Jean- Baptiste Mondino

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  • The online music retailer lists 375 audio versions (CD, SACD..) of Wreckedmanenough’s Third Piano Concerto in D minor.

    Why should I buy hers, even if she plays without a piano bench in painted-on glitter pants and with half-bared mammary glands ?

  • Why continue giving this showoff the attention and publicity she and her marketing team crave? Do we not have countless serious and far more interesting and dedicated classical and opera artists to report on?

      • I am not scared at all of beautiful and talented women. It is just that, IMHO, the talent part plays second fiddle to the beauty in this particular case. Her musicianship is fourth rate. I’ll take one note each any day from Beatrice Rana (now, that’s genuine beauty, in more ways than one) or Daniil Trifonov or Rafal Blechacz or Benjamin Grosvenor or Paul Lewis or you name it over and above a full anything by this woman. (And that my list contains only one woman at the highest level is not a sign of mysogyny but the reality on the ground).

          • Curious that you’d eliminate Yuja Wang from such a list. While there are others I’d rather hear in certain repertoire, her gifts are hard to dispute.
            Misogyny isn’t really part of this: it’s about vulgarity in using non musical gifts to draw attention and forward careers. Wolves used to work, now it’s semi nudity. Blame the culture and artists who lack self respect.

          • And why does it matter if you take him seriously? I agree with the assessment, I don’t see much possibility of real growth from a manually gifted but vulgar performer, the same holds for Lang Lang.
            Try to remember Pogorelich and that career trajectory.

          • @Respect Agree Yuja Wang belongs on that high level list. That said, I am not sold on her yet but we shall see. I wish she’d tone it down a bit (and I am not talking tone).

        • Ungy, if she sells some CDs to help keep the enterprise afloat, I don’t really care about all your putdowns. Don’t like her playing? Don’t buy her recordings. Simple.

      • I don’t believe that it is their beauty and talent. It seems to me that when a man starts being with an exceptionally attractive woman, soon there is no shortage of sleazy other men trying anything they can think of to take her away. What starts as a love affair soon becomes a battleground to fend off the intruders.

  • Why do my fellow males come to Norman’s blog to display their ugly and out-dated misogyny? It’s tiresome, regressive, destructive and embarrassing.

    • You appear to be mistaking the content for the packaging. The same osbervations could be made about a male pianist wearing ballet tights, codpiece and tank top to draw attention to himself.

      • Do you struggle to cope with attractive women wearing flattering dresses? Should female performers wear burkas so you aren’t distracted?

        • Stop being so PK, what we’re displeased with is the ratio of musicianship to publicity. Obviously she has great facility on the instrument, but what she makes out of the notes is rather dull compared to others listed above.

          She seems to be compensating this by drawing attention to flash – in both dress and music – instead of letting the music speak for itself.

        • exactly will, and even in a burkha you can’t overlook the sensational curves, which is all fine I guess. Its such a weird conversation that pops up on all kinds of sites about these female players. They are young, play well, whether one likes it or not, and love the way they look, so their self esteem is pretty high and I love it. It doesn’t have to be all grey and old men, which in fact is fine too.

          • So true! She is an amazing musician, I don’t like all those negative comments. Art and beauty can go together.

    • See my numerous comments the last time Ms Buniatishvili was mentioned on this blog. The comments here are nothing compared to those of somebody called Paul Davis, who likes to call her Catch-her Bum-touchy-feely, which sounds like an incitement to commit a sexual assault. Some people fail to understand that there is a distinction between critique and insult and that being politically correct sometimes just means being decent.

  • [Repost of a comment I posted last May, during another “discussion” of Katia’s dress musicianship]

    I think it would be fun (in a perverse way) if male performers were judged on their looks the way female performers are judged on theirs.
    For example, things a male performer should have:
    – beautiful perfect hair
    – beautiful perfect cheekbones
    – straight elegant nose
    – square jaw with firm yet luscious lips
    – broad muscular shoulders & chest
    – beautifully manicured hands
    – classic fitness-model “V” shaped torso
    – tight firm buttocks
    – larger-than-average crotch bulge
    – long muscular legs
    – between 6 feet and 6 feet 4 inches tall

    – The performer would be aware that any deviation from these criteria would be expected to have a noticeable impact on his career (for better or worse, depending).
    – It would be acceptable for any of these to be altered artificially, as long as the result did not look artificial.
    – He would be expected to dress for all performances, and pose for publicity shots & album covers, in a way that displays all of these attributes so that the audience can evaluate them without having to resort to speculation; if he didn’t do so, he could expect limited interest from audiences, critics, record executives, and blogmasters.
    – BUT if the evaluation was too easy — i.e., not enough left to the imagination — or if, through sheer genetic good luck, he simply meets all these criteria too well, or if he is perceived to be trying too hard to meet them, then it would be assumed that he is trading on his looks, and respect for his technical and artistic accomplishments would be withheld to a corresponding degree.
    – Lastly, audiences & critics would be expected to draw attention constantly to any and all of these visual criteria, while denying that any of it is relevant to their evaluation of the artistic product. This point of view would be accepted as logical and consistent.

  • At some level, she must be aware of her sub-par artistry – otherwise she wouldn’t feel the necessity to remove her clothes. Certainly Argerich never needed to take her clothes off to get attention.

    • This is exactly the point. Some are whinging here about utter nonsense. The fact is, she should be showing off her playing, not her body: music lovers here are looking for a good pianist and not a good prostitute.

      • Of course, the predictable few will whinge about this comment, too, but then they are just showing their priorities do not lie with the music!

        • Exactly: the playing must be paramount.The fact that she (or her agents?) have an obsession with combining music and salaciousness shows that their focus is not where it should be.

          If she wants more respect from the music world (rather than cheap, popular media), she needs to work on her playing, not just strip off even more. There are enough women who do that already.

        • The visual aspect distracts from the listening experience; case in point: I just
          Istened to Yuja’s Ravel recordings after having drawn immense pleasure from the live performances on YouTube. Regrettably, all I heard was dry, brittle and unimaginative playing, with little to recommend beyond great proficiency. I was allowing my pleasure in watching a great athletes body in motion and ignored the aural evidence. Oddly, Helene Grimaud’s unique beauty never blocked an objective estimate of her often heavy and pedestrian playing. Because she never choose to exploit it in her career?

          • Hmmm… There could be other, musical reasons for your disappointment with the recordings: it can be that certain performers are simply not inspired in the studio, needing the live danger and stimulation. Yuja is doubtless one such, but it could be equally well the case of an ugly man; i adored Shura Cherkassky’s live performances, (visually ghastly!), but hardly any of that magic was transmitted in the studio. I have often enjoyed Nikolai Lugansky live, but been disappointed with the CDs…. (tho not an ugly man in this case!) Benno Moiseiwitsch was studio-shy, (i never heard him live but my parents found him magical), and several legends disappoint on old recordings. For others, studio or live makes little difference, (Martha, Alicia, Volodos…..), they are equally inspired.

            I should add that, while mostly admiring Yuja’s pianism, i have to close my eyes to her recent videos as i’m allergic to hi-heels and heavy make-up!

      • ‘Prostitute’? Did you really write that? You sound like the Taliban: assuming that any woman who dresses in a way which you find uncomfortable must have loose morals.

        Take a good hard look at yourself and your own moral failings before you obscenely criticize somebody else.

        • Well said Mr Duffay………..he will be advocating women dress in an all black Burka next. I also think that the young lady in question may have a case of libel here over his distasteful comment about prostitution.

          • Prostitutes use their bodies for money and attention; this woman does the same. Difference?

            Why would anyone want her to wear oppressive Islamic dress (except apologist left-wingers with similar views to yourself are well-known for making excuses for Islam). A respectable male pianist would never get away with dressing as inappropriately as the photograph above. Why the exception for her? Get a grip and stop with your stupid comments.

          • @John: It’s not to do with allowing her to get away with dressing inappropriately or making exceptions. It’s to do with your being deliberately, gratuitously offensive.

            I am prepared to believe that you do not actually want to see women wearing the burqa, but what do you want? The niqab? The hijab? Shoulders covered? Knee-length skirts? Ankle-length skirts? Loose clothing that does not reveal the form of the body? Do you want women to dress like Orthodox Jews, southern European Catholics, Victorian English ladies? Evidently you do not approve of women wearing whatever they choose. Since you believe in exceptions you must also believe in rules (this is the original meaning of the phrase ‘the exception that proves the rule’). I am just trying to work out at what point you believe that a woman’s clothing crosses the line and becomes inappropriate. I am also interested to learn how you came to possess the authority to determine how it is appropriate for women to dress. You would not impose the same rules as the Taliban, nor back them up with the same source of authority, but, like the Taliban, you believe that men are entitled to determine how women should dress, and you assume that women who transgress your rules are prostitutes.

          • Granted, but not unreasonable given the deliberate, gratuitous whinging of others here.

            You give, of course, a large range, and I agree that any definite cut-off point can only be arbitrary. A societal restriction to some general range, though, is normal. In most jobs, wearing such a dress would cause the woman to be sacked: society as a whole considers it completely inappropriate. It is more than just a personal opinion.

            There is an unhealthy obsession with claiming that ‘women should wear whatever they choose’. If I wore that dress, I would expect to receive more than just criticism. I could choose to wear even less, but would expect arrest. There are cries of sexism from those who are forgetting that there is no sexism here; if anything, women have even more freedom when it comes to dress than men. I don’t expect to be able to wear anything I want, and neither should she.

        • Starts to look that a couple of nasty guys are lost in judgments… to call her a prostitute? You are NUTS! And far away from enjoying art.

        • Just a desperate Georgian woman, learned what she could from Russian piano school. Georgians are country people, the culture only got enriched thanks to Russians.
          She looks comical. Fat, faith tits hanging out, huge shnouser nose). She needs a nose job and loose some weight. The most perverted musical style, all about attention, nothing makes sense in her music. Sentimental talentless woman that tries hard to look like an oversexed who’re. Really!

  • Igor Levitt doesn’t belong to august list, but rather to show off pianist like Khatia.
    Her over sentimental rendition of kitchy music of Guya Kancheli so siropy. Music from movie sound track and its place in a bar lounge.

  • I find this discussion quite hilarious. The marketing team have got exactly what they wanted as a first step – everyone talking about her!! As a woman its a yawn moment listening to men opine about what women are/are not wearing.

    • Don’t agree, her marketing attempts don’t improve the playing in the slightest. And I find it bizarre to hear about her “beauty” to me, she looks like a young Bachuer, without the compensatory great playing.

      This is nothing new, go back to reviews of Carreño.

    • Fair enough, Marg, but consider that male classical performers generally have very little latitude in how they dress for the stage, especially at the highest-paying end of the industry. If they had, and made use of, all the options in dress that their female counterparts have, they’d get plenty of comments on what they chose to wear, too.

      (For instance, look how much comment organist Cameron Carpenter used to get just for wearing tight white jeans and a tight white t-shirt or tank top. And early in his conducting career, Christoph Eschenbach excited comment just for wearing a black Nehru jacket in place of a black tuxedo jacket.)

      Similarly, if female classical soloists restricted their choices of attire as narrowly as their male colleagues do, no one would comment on their clothes.

      • That is a fair point. I just Googled some photos of Cameron Carpenter, and I have to say, I think he looks a little silly. Just because he possesses a physique which allows him to sit at the organ console in a vest (apparently called an A-shirt in north America), it does not mean that he necessarily ought to. I am quite prepared to listen to his playing and to judge him on that, but this silly marketing gimmick does not attract me to him; rather, it makes me struggle to take him entirely seriously. That is doubtless unfair of me, as he is by all accounts a fine musician.

        I am not by nature old-fashioned, but I do have a certain nostalgia for the days when men dressed elegantly. I remember seeing Heifetz on a TV show that had evidently been shown originally during the daytime, and he wore morning dress! Sir András Schiff dresses beautifully. He is the only man I have ever seen wearing a midnight blue tailcoat and trousers (as favoured by the Duke of Windsor). I think that there is much to commend following convention, simply because it renders the artist’s image unremarkable and focuses attention on the music alone. Of course, I realise that I may seem to contradict myself, as I evidently have paid some attention to Sir András Schiff’s concert outfits. My explanation is that since convention is now more often disregarded than adhered to, those artists who continue to wear evening dress are, in fact, remarkable for doing so. Among female artists, Angela Hewitt has always been very elegant, and I have seen her perform wearing some beautiful dresses, but the dress is never more interesting than the performance. Ms Hewitt is 58, so I suppose this kind of elegance, like the slightly older Schiff and considerably older Pollini, now belongs to a different era.

        • Very well said. I recall also that until the end Horowitz invariably wore tails for his evening recitals, as also did Cziffra.

          • And Claudio Arrau was the very last concert artist to wear a full-length black cape, lined with red silk, to and from his appearances.

          • @Steven Holloway’s comment: Nigel Kennedy once performed the Berg concerto in a Dracula costume, but I don’t imagine that that counts.

    • I find that the comments have an entertainment value of a certain type. Mainly I sit back and have a mild laugh or two … 🙂

    • I couldn’t agree more: calling a woman a ‘prostitute’ because she wears a flattering dress is the most disgraceful and unacceptable misogyny. It just demonstrates that however much we think the there is equality between the sexes, there will always be a minority of sad men who are unable to permit women to be both attractive and succesful. I’m ashamed of my fellow men sometimes.

      • I fear that they will just accuse you of being politically correct, intellectually offensive, and emotionally dishonest.

      • Of course we will accuse the insufferable Duffay of that! No reasonable person can call such a slutty dress ‘flattering’. Prostitutes use their bodies for money and attention; this woman does the same. Difference?

        • The difference is that she is a pianist, not a prostitute. David Beckham also uses his body for money and attention. Will you therefore agree that Mr Beckham is also correctly described as a prostitute? I suspect not. It’s also insulting to describe a woman as ‘slutty’. I’d be fascinated to know why you feel the need to be so offensive about this woman; I really would.

          • Prostitute is obviously a word used to describe a woman, but, yes, it would be fair to consider David Beckham along the same lines, at least when he is taking off his clothes for cheap attention. The principle works for both sexes.

            I described the dress as ‘slutty’, not the woman: big difference.

  • I feel conflicted by Khatia. She obviously has no problem using her sexuality to her advantage, but she shouldn’t have to rely on this. She does have talent, but refuses to be tamed by proper teaching and practice. She needs a mentor that will not allow her to be reckless and directionless with her music. Should she concede to take a few years off to focus on her technique and music, she could become a real force to recon with. Right now she’s being shamelessly used by her management. This is a form of abuse, and there needs to be an intervention.

  • All of you make me very glad that I listen to the radio, and to audio-only recordings. As has become the norm with blind auditions for orchestral positions, I have no idea what a performer is wearing or how he (or she) looks: I am free to focus on the sound of the performance.

    If you want controversy, try this: even ballet is sometimes improved by listening with one’s eyes closed (some of the choreography is that bad).

  • Says someone down below: “it’s about vulgarity in using non musical gifts to draw attention and forward careers. Wolves used to work, now it’s semi nudity.”

    I don’t see any valid analogy between Khatia and Hélène Grimaud, as the above remark implies (the “wolves” remark being an obvious reference to Grimaud). I’m not sufficiently qualified technically to offer a sound musical judgement as to Khatia’s abilities as a pianist, but it is clear that she uses “non-musical gifts” – her beauty and sex appeal (though I find Grimaud perhaps even more beautiful and appealing on every level) – to “draw attention and forward her career”.

    I don’t think the same holds true for Grimaud and her work with wolves. It seems like an outside hobby that she simply enjoys, not one used or exploited merely to “draw attention and forward her career” as a pianist or sell CDs. In fact, the opposite may be true in that her success as a pianist may be what has allowed her the freedom (financially and otherwise) to engage in her work with wolves. In that sense, perhaps it’s her career as a pianist that is being used or exploited to draw attention to her work with wolves and their plight, and not the other way around.

  • Ugh! Some purists have nothing better to do. The fact is, one goes to a concert to see and hear a performance, if Ms. Buniatishvili can spice up the event with – yes – her beauty and sex appeal – more power to her! Whether that distracts from the music is a matter of opinion.

  • Seems to me that most “critics of classical music” are mainly looking to pick things apart instead of just enjoying the music. I think that they are full of S**T!

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