Franck: Églogue; Premier grand caprice; Prélude, choral et fugue; Prélude, aria et final; Danse lente; Les plaintes d’une poupée

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COMPOSERS: Franck
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Églogue; Premier grand caprice; Prélude, choral et fugue; Prélude, aria et final; Danse lente; Les plaintes d’une poupée
PERFORMER: Ashley Wass (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554484
Ashley Wass is a young British pianist, trained at Chetham’s and the Royal Academy of Music; he has to his credit an impressive list of competition wins (Royal Over-Seas League and the 1997 World Piano Competition) which have gained him a spot in Naxos’s Laureate series. If a British ‘school’ of pianism can still be said to exist, Wass, to judge from this recording, has many of its qualities: lyricism and restraint, sense and control, songful tone and seriousness. Perhaps this is a strange programme for Naxos to choose; not all the music is as good as the well-known Prélude, choral et fugue (the lengthy Églogue, Op. 3, is very questionable in quality at times, although Wass plays it tenderly, and the Premier grand caprice is not terribly capricious) and there is a certain underlying uniformity of expression which can probably be attributed more to the composer than the pianist. The exception is the tiny piece Les plaintes d’une poupée, written for an unnamed child, which is unexpected, warm and gentle. And in the mature Franck’s substantial tripartite works, Prélude, choral et fugue and Prélude, aria et final, Wass creates a suitably grand, organ-like resonance of tone and an atmosphere of inward-looking mystery. Jessica Duchen

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