There's a certain class of pianist-a very large and respectable one-whose primary facility and interests lie in playing the piano as opposed to making personal statements, or probing under a musical surface to inner or less obvious meanings. Such a pianist is Jean-Philippe Collard, who was the second recitalist in the University of Maryland's International Piano Festival at Tawes Theater Monday night.
Collard is a 30-year-old graduate of the Paris Conservatory. He's got a fat sheaf of competition prizes and made his American debut five years ago, but is still an unfamiliar name here. That may change rapidly when word gets around about his king-size virtuosity and fine musical breeding.
He chose a program wisely tailored to his most conspicuous gifts-Ravel's "Valse Nobles et Sentimentales," Schumann's Symphonic Etudes, Debussy's "L'lsle Joyeux," and the Rachmaninoff B-Flat Minor Sonata. These are all big, rangy, colorful pieces that can and did profit from Collard's many-hued tonal palate, his vast dynamic compass, his refinement and objectivity.
The sound he produced sometimes dribbed out in ethereal wisps and sometimes trumpeted forth with orchestral majesty, but it was always under exquiste control. It was only in the Schumann at times that one craved a warmer, more introspective approach, but that doesn't appear to be Collard's way, and he's got much to offer without it.
Festival officials made known in the course of the day that Lili Kraus, who was to have performed Friday evening at Tawes, will be unable to appear due to an injured hand. On four days notice, pianist Rudolph Firkusny has agreed to fill in.