The Strad Issue: January 2009
Musicians: Prima Carezza
Composer: George Boulanger, Dinicu, Schmitz, Schmidseder, Nedbal, Monti, Lehár, Edelmann, Rezsö, Knümann & Trad.

Prima Carezza, an ensemble of two violins and accordion, here revisits the salon world of the early 20th century and its musical blend of Viennese poise and gypsy extroversion made famous by Romanian-born violinist and composer Georges Boulanger.
The opening serenade features a growling, shuddering accordion and a violin that rasps with total disregard for those ears that flinch at the scraping of plates. In fact, though, such extreme moments as this are rare. Wieslaw Pipczynski’s accordion is rather disappointingly understated thereafter, providing a solid but rarely noticeable backing; taking centre stage throughout, Michaela Paetsch-Neftel does occasionally approach what a gypsy violinist might consider an allegro moderato, and her varied and accomplished pizzicato technique helps craft a real sense of abandon in Boulanger’s Pizzicato-Walzer. The trio draws rich emotional colour from the music in other ways.

Bold rubato, unanimously felt, holds back before surging forward, weighing down the moments of tragedy just as it feeds the red-blooded dances. More sporadically, the exquisite high register of the lead violin bewitches with its bird-like, whistle-clean lyricism, nowhere more so than in Max und Moritz.

But for all this, it is hard not to thrill at the electricity generated when the group is playing fast and hard; when, for instance, the second violin (Klaus Neftel) swaps light accompaniment for octave doubling of a scurrying melody. There is just enough of this to lift the album without killing its considerable refinement.

Chris Elcombe