It was a salutary recording to listen to. I’d been disappointed recently when reviewing the Collard recording of Chopin waltzes, which I found strangely perfunctory. No such reservations here. This reading certainly deserves its re-issue, which will go in my shelves alongside the classic Rubenstein reading and the recent sensational account by Maurizio Pollini.Particularly notable is Collard’s performance of the most challenging of the Ballades, the F-minor, as it moves from dreamy beauty to electrifying drama. The acoustic of the recording goes a long way in creating its atmosphere.
The album, which dates from 1990, was recorded in the famous Salle Wagram in Paris, and is marked by a remarkable natural depth and resonance – which is never so “plummy” it masks the crisp articulation of Collard’s playing. If there is a flaw in this release, it comes solely from EMI Classic’s decision to issue here a straight version of the French CD, complete with a double-fold essay on the music. French is the only language option offered – there is not even a website translation offered for English readers.
The language of music may well be universal, but Australian buyers deserve more than this when they spend money on a disc. The performances do certainly compensate, making this an altogether worthwhile purchase – but it remains a lazy exercise in CD production.