This disc of piano works, played by the composer, contains some works of interest and one which really does not stand up to repetition in what must be regarded as the best possible performances they are likely to receive at the time of writing.
Much of Wagner's music is reminiscent of the second Viennese school of composition but with a rather more complex and fastidious style. Of the two groups of 5 studies (separated on disc by Chromatomanie) there are frequently ideas on display that borrow from the past to be allied to more avant garde notation. Of most appeal are arguably book I's 2nd (which is a subversion of unison playing, sounding like a pair of kittens playing catch-me-if-you-can on the keyboard), 3rd (that gradually moves from intervals of a minor 6th to a major 2nd with every interval in between) and book II's 2nd (which derives all its material from ornaments). The other studies are of less interest to this listener but far from repellent.
Chromatomanie is another matter though, this 19 minute work appears to be less well focussed to the ear than the studies and as a result becomes uninspiring and a perseverance rather than stimulating listen. Up to this point, the sound is a conventional presentation with good, clear tone obtained without a hint of hardness to the tone.
Fortunately, the other large work Vier bis Fünf Geister (for 4 hands on one piano) is far more interesting and almost ventures into the territory of being enjoyable! It is very dense in textures but very rhythmically exciting - to try and summarise the mood is hard but is very roughly jazzy or Ravelian in equal measure. Joined by Thomas Monbaur who evidently enjoys this music, Cybele also choose a very different perspective, so that we are seated on the piano bench and the sound spreads out wide, with a clear aural perspective distinction between high and low notes; probably necessary given the density of textures and speed of playing. This is by far the most stimulating piece and performance on the disc.
Wagner, C M: Piano Works - Wagner, Mombaur
Christoph Maria Wagner: Etüden - Heft I & II, Chromatomanie, Vier bis fünf Geister
Christoph Maria Wagner (piano)
Thomas Mombaur (piano)