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FAURÉ // Barcarolles op.19

Jean-Philippe Collard,

Composed over a large part of his creative life, suffused with charm, sombre grandeur or stark austerity, Fauré’s Thirteen Barcarolles testify to the refinement of his style and to the evolution of his language.

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A respected interpreter of Fauré, Jean-Philippe Collard has over the years recorded all of his piano works, not to mention his complete chamber music and a disc of songs with Frederica von Stade – a part of the composer’s output that he regrets not having explored more ‘for all the insight it gives us into Fauré’s music, the conjunction of words and music, and the phenomenon of phrasing with the breath that singers are obliged to respect and that some pianists neglect’. 50 years after his first version of the Barcarolles and 37 years after his recording of the Ballade op.19, here is a miraculous record, by a humble servant of music at its peak of inspiration.

Les 13 Barcarolles

 

  • Barcarolle no 1 in A minor, op.26 – Allegretto moderato 4’15
  • Barcarolle no 2 in G major, op.41 – Allegretto quasi allegro 6’20
  • Barcarolle no 3 in G flat major, op.42 – Andante quasi allegretto 7’23
  • Barcarolle no 4 in A flat major, op.44 – Allegretto 3’29
  • Barcarolle no 5 in F sharp minor, op.66 – Allegretto moderato 6’08
  • Barcarolle no 6 in E flat major, op.70 – Allegretto vivo 3’23
  • Barcarolle no 7 in D minor, op.90 – Allegretto moderato 3’22
  • Barcarolle no 8 in D flat major, op.96 – Allegretto moderato 3’30
  • Barcarolle no 9 in A minor, op.101 – Andante moderato 4’21
  • Barcarolle no 10 in A minor, op.104 no 2 – Allegretto moderato 2’57
  • Barcarolle no 11 in G minor, op.105 – Allegretto moderato 4’23
  • Barcarolle no 12 in E flat major, op.106 bis – Allegretto giocoso 3’03
  • Barcarolle no 13 in C major, op.116 – Allegretto 3’39

 

  • Ballade in F sharp major, op.19 – Andante cantabile 14’41

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.

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