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XPMM15105917
Total Playing Time: 66 mins (approx)
9.99 plus Postage
"Angela Mia - A Tribute To The Art Of Emil Velazco"

Original 1920s Electrical Recordings re-mastered by Adrian Tuddenham of Poppy Records, Bath.

Paul Morris writes:

'The first gramophone record of a cinema organist that I became aware of, was Emil Velazco playing "Angela Mia" on Columbia 5188, issued in the UK in February 1929. I was immediately fascinated by his style of playing, and although I was probably only about 10 years old, I was captivated. Forty years on, I can honestly say it is still my favourite organ disc.

The '20s were the golden age of so many things, and cinema, or theatre organs were certainly one of them. The colossal fortunes made in the cinema industry resulted in picture-houses abounding in just about every sizeable town, and whilst the smallest of these were modest affairs, the largest (especially in America) were veritable palaces of entertainment. Many of them had organs to provide a musical accompaniment to the film.

Almost overnight it seemed there was a growing army of organists who shot to stardom as they each provided their own, often highly characteristic, film scores. With the advent of electrical recording in 1925, the best of these musicians made records, and it is during the brief, but glorious period, from this date until the advent of "talkies" around 1930, that my favourite records were made.

Velazco was born in 1898, and was of South American extraction. He seems to have had a meteoric rise to fame, since returning from the Great War he almost immediately became associated with several of the major U.S. theatre chains, and by 1927 he was famous enough to be asked to play one of the three consoles of the monster organ in the Roxy theatre, New York on the opening night. Sadly, illness prevented this from occurring.

Very soon after the close of our era, demand for his services declined sharply, he was beset with financial problems, and little is known of his life after this period. It is believed that he died in Argentina.

Velazco's style was unique. In an era that valued originality, organists worked hard to put across their version of a piece so that the audience would be in no doubt who was playing. With the throbbing tremolo, so much in vogue, a cinema organ could mimic aspects of the human voice to an amazing degree.

With true portamento (but not glissando) in his melody line, Velazco managed to produce a remarkable "soulfulness" typified in such numbers as Drdla's "Souvenir" and "Just A Night For Meditation". In this latter piece we also hear another of his traits: chromatically descending chords used to bridge two sections.

Other discs highlight his "rasping" pedal style with telling string or soft reed, and often we hear the sound of the combination action at work, which in my opinion, rather than detracting from the performance adds a touch of homely realism. A lovely descending run in staggered chromatic thirds is a perfect example of his creativity (as well as his dexterity) towards the end of "By The Waters Of  Minnetonka".

For me, however, the way he embroiders the melody of "Angela Mia" played low, with shimmering, wispy flutes and tibias at the top of their range, is pure magic, and when this gives way to the refrain played in a jaunty up-tempo way with a spiky descant (how else can I describe it?)

I just know I am in the presence of a very special organist, and one whose skills, recorded so long ago, deserve to be more widely known. I hope this CD will allow his art to be appreciated by a new generation of enthusiasts.'

 Paul Morris, Exeter 2012

Track Listing 
No:Title:Composer/Arranger:Time:
1If You Don't Love MeAger, Yellen2:51 Listen to a sample of this track
2SouvenirDrdla3:42
3La RositaDupont2:48 Listen to a sample of this track
4Song of the IslandsKing3:28
5BelovedKahn, Sanders2:59
6By the Waters of MinetonkaLieurance2:48
7JeannineShilkret, Gilbert2:58
8Just a Night for MeditationLewis, Young, Pollack3:10
9RainFord2:23
10A Perfect DayJacobs-Bond2:55
11Last Night I Dreamed You Kissed MeLombardo, Kahn3:25
12CongratulationsPinkard, Goetz, Green & Stept3:32
13In a Monastery GardenKetelby3:09
14LiebestraumLiszt3:03
15How am I to KnowParker, King3:04 Listen to a sample of this track
16La GolondrinaSerradell3:07
17The RosaryNevin / Rogers2:39
18LoveJanis, Goulding3:03
19Angela MiaRapee, Pollack2:49


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