Jean-Philippe Collard: At the heart of colour
Jean-Philippe Collard belongs to that category of artists who move through space in the same way as they play: the measured gestures brush past the lights until he sits down in front of the instrument. The pianist has come to listen to those who have come to hear him. What he proposes is a dialogue without words. Just through the eyes and then through sound. An infinity of sounds.
This very special complicity conceals all the preparatory work that comes before the concert: the need to forget one’s nervousness (how long afternoons are before going on stage!), to dominate an impatient body, to channel one’s courage, the self-control of the final moments before the leap into the void, it all depends. It is necessary, he says, ‘to be sucked into the music, to be calm enough to find your way back to spontaneity, and to captivate the audience’. The urge to convey and reveal the beauty of music exceeds the nature of a mere passion: it is a matter of vital necessity, for which one must resolve to share one’s own emotions, without the desire to conquer those of others in return. An offering, now of immense proportions after hundreds of concerts and more than sixty recordings.
‘You have to strike straight at the heart and not over-intellectualise works you’ve frequented for years’, he says. Those works constitute a fabulous harvest, the fruits of Romanticism, from Chopin and Schumann right up to Rachmaninoff, made still more beautiful by two centuries of French music.
All Jean-Philippe Collard’s sound worlds are impregnated with colour: the ‘sensation produced on the organ of sight by light variously reflected by bodies’, says the Littré dictionary, with an epicurean perception unusual in such a volume yet intensely familiar to a pianist who, precisely, declares that he is ‘hungry for colours’. But not just any colours. A gourmet of pigments, the artist knows what nuance means in every context, when sonic landscapes with a measured temperament resonate in the iridescence of arpeggios and the long finish of chords. When he recalls his apprenticeship with Pierre Sancan, his friendship with Vladimir Horowitz and his encounters all over the world with the elite of conductors and the foremost orchestras, Jean-Philippe Collard knows that he can tell the public everything. So he has paid tribute to the gods of colour, his composers.