Though he possesses a vast and varied repertory, virtuoso pianist Ashley Wass has been most closely associated with the keyboard outputs of Arnold Bax, William Alwyn, Frank Bridge, and Edward Elgar, four English composers not usually associated with piano music. Wass has recorded more than a half-dozen discs devoted to Bax, including sonatas for violin and piano, as well as music for two pianos, and he has made three discs of Bridge works, taking in both solo pieces and music for piano trio. But Wass is not necessarily partial to music by his countrymen; he's only performed one English concerto, the Britten. Moreover, he plays an array works by Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Franck, André Messager, and many others. Wass regularly performs chamber music in a group he founded, the Denali Trio. Since the late '90s he has amassed a substantial recorded output of more than 20 albums, mostly available on Naxos, with scattered efforts on EMI, Hyperion, and Kultur Video.
Ashley Wass was born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1977. He began playing the piano at five, and studied music at Chethams Music School from age 11. In his teens he studied on scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, where his teachers included Christopher Elton and Hamish Milne. Wass later studied with Murray Perahia.
Wass' watershed moment came in 1997 when he won the World Piano Competition in London, a victory that led to a recording contract with Naxos, making him the first solo artist to obtain an exclusive deal with the label. His first recording was a highly praised CD of César Franck piano music, released in 1999. Wass has since made more than a dozen recordings for Naxos, with more to follow.
In 2002 Wass gave what was probably his most high-profile performance when he appeared in a Buckingham Palace gala concert to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee, an event broadcast to millions of viewers. In 2004 Naxos released the first of Wass' discs devoted to the music of Bax, a CD containing Sonatas No. 1 and No. 2 and other works. Wass' recordings include the Bax Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra and Concertante for Left Hand (2009), and Liszt's transcription of Beethoven on a fortepiano, released in 2012. Wass became artistic director of the Lincolnshire International Chamber Music Festival in 2007, and teaches at the Royal Academy of Music.