Rubinstein Piano Competition / A Truly Impressive Artist

Khatia Buniatishvili spurred a transformation into the competition's atmosphere when she played Hayden.

She's 20 years old, and studies in Vienna with Oleg Maizenberg. The transformation Khatia Buniatishvili spurred into the competition's atmosphere was seemingly expected: After ten pianists who did not seem likely to be contestants in the next stages, "the time came" for an encounter with a truly impressive artist.

Buniatishvili played a Hayden sonata, and upon hearing it, discussion circulating what is an "authentic" style were placed in an ironic light. Buniatishvili's Hayden may not have been authentic, but its timelessness was becoming clear. The continuation, in Schumann's Fantasy in C Major, displayed a pianist whose every note was complete, who had a strong but never beat-up sound- she was all culture.

Here are a few remarks about other parts of Tuesday's competition: You can ponder, for instance, what happens to a listener who is met with an overwhelming Hayden sonata after being exposed to a dry, conservative performance of Shumann's "Dance of the League of David," which suddenly sounded long.

For me, following the recital of the Korean pianist Hong Chun Youn, which was exhausting, Hayden played by the Croatian Martina Filjack was received like a cool breeze in a heat wave. Of course, the judges in the competition are required to have a different approach- they are supposed to evaluate each artist individually, to know how to "clear the head" from the previous performances.

Filjack played Brahms' Intermezzi and Paganini Variations, flooding the auditorium with streams of temperament, although not on a satisfactorily polished level.

Tuesday's competition also introduced the first of the four Israeli pianists participating this year: Dror Biran. His approach to Beethoven (Sonata No. 30) was very aggressive, in my opinion, and the andante at the end sounded long-winded. With Chopin, (Ballade No. 4), he didn't exhibit identity. Expectations of Biran were higher.