The French title of this disc together with the
name of the main composer here – Georges Boulanger – may lead
you to expect music from some French salon of the early twentieth
century. However, do not be misled. The title is simply that
of one of the pieces and I have no idea of the purpose of the
question. The composer was unrelated to the much better known
Nadia, Lili or Ernest. Indeed the surname was simply adopted
by him in place of his real name of Pantazi. He was born in
Roumania and apparently devoted his life to salon music. I understand
that this is the third CD of his music recorded by Prima Carezza
on Tudor. I have not heard the others but certainly the quality
of the pieces here gives no impression of scraping a barrel.
Bearing in mind the limited instrumental resources
available here, there is remarkable variety of mood and sound.
Boulanger’s pieces range from those obviously related to East
European folk music, to tangos and waltzes, as well as a few
pure salon charmers like the very catchy “Max und Moritz” and
the quaint “Flageolett-Walzer Nr. 1”. Each makes its point succinctly
and precisely, leaving one wanting more – a very desirable but
surprisingly rare quality in much light music.
There are also a few pieces by better known composers,
including Lehár and Nedbal, although the best known music here
is the inevitable Csárdás by Monti. It is good to hear this
played on the violin again – its composer was an Italian violinist
who copied to perfection all the expected gestures of Hungarian
gypsy music here. All too often in recent years it has been
played as a kind of novelty item on a strange variety of instruments
but here it comes up as fresh as ever, and thoroughly enjoyable
it proves too.
The three artists here are clearly used to playing
together, and much of the music has been arranged by or for
them. The accordion is of a surprising variety of textures and
effects but always makes a very positive impression. The panache
with which all of the players approach the music is also very
impressive. This may not be a disc for the musical puritan or
anyone lacking a sweet tooth, but the rest of us can play this
and imagine we are fortunate enough to be in the Hotel Waldhaus
where it was recorded and where hearing Prima Carezza is a highlight
of our holiday.