Jean Philippe Collard is a young French pianist of outstanding gifts. During the entire course of his concert on Saturday afternoon in the Kennedy Center, he unfailingly produced sounds of unusual beauty in varying colors.
From Ravel's Valses Nobles et Sentimentales at the opening of his program to the big Rachmaninoff Sonata in B Flatt Minor that closed it, Collard continually sought out and achieved dynamic shadings in a wide range. Moreover, when appropriate, he frequently made use of his ability to single out individual voices within chordal passages, adding still further lights and shadows to the appeal of his playing.
This poetic style of playing paid the highest dividends in the Ravel. It could have been equally effective in the Symphonic Etudes by Schumann, but Collard did not find the larger dimensions of this familiar music, perhaps because of his concern for the most intimate details. The Schumann was indeed lyrical, if on a rather confined scale.
With all the technical equipment necessary for Debussy's "L'Isle Joyeuse," Collard built it steadily to a fine, sonorous climax. Along the way, there were times when it lacked the kind of sonority a touch more pedal would have provided. The Ranchmaninoff is a mixture of characteristic, exciting peaks and more than a judicious quanity of hot air. Collard's instinct for poetry helped to reduce the effect of the latter without in any way detracting from the former.