Naxos Laureate Series 8.554484 [76
Ashley Wass was the first British winner of the triennial World Piano
Competition (London 1997) and he has chosen Cesar Franck's piano music
for his debut CD. The early Églogue Op
3 and Caprice Op 5 (both are rarely played pieces from 1843) date
from his period as a virtuoso pianist, which was however not greatly successful.
From 1870, he devoted himself to composition and returned to writing for
the piano in his last years. Here we have his major works for the piano from
the 1880s, both of which reflect his career as an organist in their texture
and general style. The Prélude, Chorale &
Fugue and Prélude, Aria & Finale are
important works, which maintain a tenuous place in the repertoire, though
they are heard less often nowadays.
Wass gives fluent accounts of both, and his choice is auspicious in its avoidance
of more popular and over-recorded music. His playing is fluent and preserves
a beautiful tone, reinforcing my good impression upon hearing him live at
a recital in the prestigious Wallace Collection recital series. It is well
Wass shows himself here as a serious minded pianist, who has much to offer.
His future will be watched with interest, as will that of the Finnish pianist
Antti Siirala, the controversial winner of the recent 2000 competition who
had, uniquely, emerged as a last minute substitute, having not been selected
as a finalist! A Naxos CD is anticipated in due course.
Peter Grahame Woolf