A Balancing Act – Ashley Wass Talks to Jeremy Siepmann
April 1, 2011
Now in his mid-30s, Ashley Wass is still occasionally tagged as a ‘young English pianist’. Media, critics and publicists sometimes seem to think the world of music is populated by Peter Pans. But even when he could plead guilty to noteworthy youth, Wass was more often singled out by critics and musicians alike for his exceptional maturity—for his rapt poetry, his commanding but unostentatious sense of structure and musical narrative, for the sheer elegance and sophistication of his piano-playing. Today his maturity is less remarked for the simple reason that it is taken for granted, and is anyway no longer surprising. Having already outlived Schubert, he will soon have outlived Mozart. His stature and his age in combination confer maturity as a given. Like so many of today’s artists, he first came to widespread attention on the competition trail. In 1997 he became the first British pianist to win First Prize at the London International Piano Competition and in 2000 he was the second British pianist in twenty years to reach the finals of the Leeds Piano Competition. Yet like many of his colleagues, his feelings on the subject of musical competitions are distinctly ambivalent.