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Collegium Musicum - Marián Varga & Collegium Musicum CD (album) cover

MARIÁN VARGA & COLLEGIUM MUSICUM

Collegium Musicum

 

Symphonic Prog

4.37 | 29 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group
Site and Forum Admin
4 stars Pirouetting scalpel

I did a symphonics poll a little while back dealing with a few obscure records, that I myself had grown increasingly fond of, and in the midst of things our dear admin Alex was kind enough to let me know about this band - actually posting a track off of this live album. Straight away I knew this was a record I'd love, and now I'm truly grateful for his recommendation, as it quite elegantly has smacked me upside the head and made me plunge straight back into the world of symphonic high towering music. Good thing too, as I was getting just a wee bit mad from all the avant-guarde stuff roaming the airwaves. Fish? No thanks, I'd rather 42 and shave my Johnny-boy...

As many here have mentioned, this band work within the Emerson started tradition with keyboards a- blazing and maniacal drums tip toeing at their side like a strange butcher-ballerina in big boots. Personally I find Collegium Musicum to have much more in common with Triumvirat, mostly basing this quaint observation with the amount of uninterrupted melodies on offer here. ELP were masters at changing pace and course in the middle of the track - running quickly in the other direction, whereas Triumvirat stayed within the melodic core of the tune. Maybe I've traded in my brain for a box of cowboys, but that's essentially what I get. Collegium Musicum build on the Triumvirat heritage, although the individual phrasings of the players here sound altogether differently - and does quite clearly emanate a certain uniqueness and flair.

The name itself sounds like music college to me, and whether that's true, I leave entirely up to the sonic history buffs out there with an affinity for the Slovakian lingo, but to this Dane, that rather dubious translation fits the band like a latex glove-sandal. It could very easily be a couple of music students, who in their spare time away from all the books, played homage to that ever so sprawling and colourful world of progressive rock happening all over the world. Either way, these are some damn talented musicians!

What firstly separates this album from either of the aforementioned acts, is the usage of guitar. Though quite bluesy at times, it flows very elegantly along to the music at hand - adding depth and that fluid texture you sometimes get from a buttery stratocaster melting the individual notes like a sizzling hot pan. Rather peculiarly, the guitar also highlights the instruments around it, and the ferociousness of the classical rock styled piano suddenly becomes slightly more palatable and creamy, - while the drums just get empowered and sound all the more rampaging like an orchestrated Pamplonian bull-run.

As I mentioned earlier, there is not that much musically tying this band together with ELP, but in their approach - and the way they grab on to classical inspirations does echo Emerson and co. The track called Mikrokozmos for instance is originally a piece done by Bartók. On here the band infuse the music with different twists and turns - adding several original b-roads together with a rather successful rock umphh. The track Preludium in C Dur (a cast z baletu Romeo a Julia) is an adaptation of Russian composer Prokofiev albeit with a hefty dosage of salt and pepper, and some of that zest I mentioned before. Now does that remind you of any other band in particular?

This is symphonic prog rock at its finest, and I recommend anybody out there to have a closer listen to this formidable act. Nowhere else can you find these compositions within the bands' discography, and I rather like the live power of the music. It feels hard hitting, yet it can also be incredibly precise and gentle like a pirouetting scalpel. Had it not been for the far too meandering drum-solo features cluttering up the first side here, this album might have received the full 5 stars.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |

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