Prima Carezza is a popular Swiss-based ensemble devoted to the performance of salon music. In many ways it is a completely unique chamber group: although it consists of seven members, the majority of the concerts are given by only a trio of players. In addition, while they perform in some of the leading concert halls in Europe, many of their concerts are given at luxury hotels, mostly located in Switzerland. To add to these distinctions, Prima Carezza's players, as a sort of grand prank, once adopted pseudonyms for a European television appearance, but then kept their aliases for certain later concerts. Prima Carezza's repertory is, of course, usually of the salon genre, with much attention given to the music of Romanian composer/violinist Georges Boulanger. Other familiar names from the salon world also appear on their programs, including Fritz Kreisler, Imre Kálmán, and Josef Rixner. Lighter fare by more mainstream classical composers, typically presented in arrangements, is also played by the ensemble, including music by Schubert, Brahms, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, and Raff. Prima Carezza has made a number of recordings over the years, most available on the Tudor and Winter & Winter labels.
Prima Carezza's roots date back to the 1970s, when its founding members were students. But the group's current formation took shape in 1989. The members come from the U.S., Romania, Poland, Germany, and Switzerland but base their operations in Bern. The members of Prima Carezza are Klaus Neftel (first violin), Michaela Paetsch Neftel (violin), Cheryl House (cello), Tobias Schabenberger (piano), Fred Greder (double bass), Wieslaw Pipczynski (accordion), and Christoph Ogg (clarinet).
Initially giving most concerts in Switzerland, Prima Carezza gained international notice in 1994 when its CD of Georges Boulanger music, Comme-ci, comme-ça on the Tudor label, was awarded a Grand Prix du Disque of the Académie Charles Cros. Thereafter the group began appearing more often throughout Europe, and in such prestigious venues as the Gewandhaus in Leipzig and the major concert halls in Munich, Vienna, Paris, and Milano.
Prima Carezza also appeared on a string of highly successful recordings from the 1990s and into the new century. Among later efforts was the 2009 Tudor CD Pourquoi, Madame?, which featured works by Boulanger, Franz Lehár, Grigoras Dinicu, Ludwig Schmidseder, and other composers of salon music.