Here is a debut disc from a pianist whose biography does not feature any gold medals or prizes from international competitions. How refreshing! With a programme that covers some of the most challenging peaks of the 20th-century repertoire, alongside most (why not all?) of Sibelius’s Thirteen Pieces, Op 76, Georgian-born, Munich-based Lika Bibileishvili displays admirable versatility in both technique and temperament. There are no flashy gimmicks, and her emotional sincerity shines through not just the more transparent episodes of the programme but also the densest textures of Ravel’s Gaspard, where she displays a full array of shimmering colours and touches in ‘Ondine’ and supreme technical facility in the horripilating ‘Scarbo’. Prokofiev’s first ‘War’ Sonata (No 6) is likewise articulate and firmly contoured, though without approaching the barbaric audacity of Richter. She could perhaps create more of a distinction between this sound world and that of the Bartók Sonata.
Rather than an unnecessarily truncated Sibelius, one might have hoped for a choice of filler that would have enabled Bibileishvili to show a more personal voice: something Georgian, perhaps? As it is, this remains an impressive calling card and one that should gain her many well-wishers