, July 2000
"Fashion says that Franck's early piano music was inferior: perhaps because there are similarities between Opp. 3 & 5 (both 1843) and Liszt's Annees des pélèrinages Books 1 & 2; but Wass catches the former's remote tranquility, with beauty of touch in repeated bell-like motives in the outer sections. If this seems too restrained, listen to the central Allegro fuocoso outburst! Op. 5 is musically less good, but Wass cleverly disguises Franck's repetitive writing by his use of colour. A Doll's Lament (just under 2m and perhaps written for one of the composer's children), also shows his ability to play quietly and simply.
"In Franck's undoubted piano masterwork, Prélude, Chorale et Fugue, ...Wass projects the Prélude's opening starkly, arching each phrase, half-tinting the replies. With pauses judged to perfection, the Choral's presence is immediately felt, finely paced, singing its message to all. The transition into the final Fugue is joyous yet self-contained, unhurried but direct at the close.
"The intricacies of Prélude, Aria et Final have tended to make it a poorsister relation, but any claims for mere introspection should surely be swept away by Wass's sensitivity.
"...recorded at St George's, Brandon Hill, Bristol...close-up, with excellent tonal response and contrasts throughout."