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Collegium Musicum - Konvergencie CD (album) cover


Collegium Musicum

Symphonic Prog

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erik neuteboom
3 stars Here is a 2-CD from the very ELP inspired five piece band Collegium Musicum. The studio recordings are from 1970-71, both CD's contain at about one hour alternating prog featuring strong guitarplay and lots of Hammond organ work with obvious hints from Keith Emerson by Marian Varga. His keyboard sound is dated and self-indulgent but if you like these kind of keyboard players, he will please you, especially on the renditions from Bach ("Hommage a J.S. Bach") and Haydn ("Concerto in D") and the composition "Eufonia", this reminds me of Keith Emerson during his "Pictures at an exhibition"-era. RECOMMENDED TO ALL KEITH EMERSON AFICIONADOS!
Report this review (#49863)
Posted Monday, October 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of my favorites....Clearly, Marian Varga as a dominant player on this album, complemented nicely some great quitar solos from Griglak who is showing here his phenomenal potential (that he had never reached in his later projects with band called Fermata, though). Drums of Dusan Hajek are missing the strong base rhytm but are over all on better average. Fedor Freso has been always gold solid in all his performances on any album I've ever heard him on; he leaves his typical mark of melodic, yet a little dry bass playing, although here he comes to life a bit more. Obviously, Marian Varga always brought the best in his musicians and if there is anyone from that era you want to hear in top form, you will find it on any Varga's output.

Marian Varga, even after that many years, is without question one of the top keyboard players ever. I think he is to keyboards what Jeff Beck is to guitar. Absolutely recognizable, very original sound of his Hammond impresses me more and more as I age. Former keyboard player myself, I could always imitate most of the solos of any keyboard player at the time. Varga was the case where I had to humbly admit that I have much to more learn before I can say that I ama keyboard player. His work is outright phenomenal, the way he works with his instrument cannot be imitated. It almost seems that he is making love to his Hammond and at the same time he feels a need to squeeze everything possible from it and destroy it, only to recover from this schizophrenia and play some of the most beautiful, heart wrenching melodies you've ever heard. Nothing in this albums tries to copy anything. if you hear an influence of ELP, it stops right there. the themes are various in rhytms, closely intertwining with the deep classical music influence and it all hits the listener with an incredible energy. I always think about what would have happened if he had a chance to pick the great western musicians to work with him - it woud bring incredible results, no doubt. He is clearly a top notch musician with an enormous array of ideas and skills to put them to life. On this album, there are long compositions as well as just simple songs with transparent arrangements but even those blend into the structure and to me, they serve as a break from the barrage of mental bombs hitting your brain, just to make you ready for another unexpected journey. No other band that came out of Eastern Europe was this excellent except perhaps SBB (Poland) and was as compatible with western as well as Slavic influences as this line up on this album. This is a must own for any fan who searches for new horizons and sounds colored strongly with all musical styles available at the time and beyond. Marian Varga was ahead of his times even for western standards. Five stars

Report this review (#133551)
Posted Friday, August 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.5 stars...

Another East-European hidden treasure,COLLEGIUM MUSICUM were found by keyboardist Marian Varga in late 60's/early 70's.They started with an eponymous album consisting of THE NICE-like Hammond organ work and bluesy guitars,but their =considered by many as a-masterpiece ''Konvergencie'' was released a year later with a more personal and refined sound.Mostly an instrumental work,''Kovergencie'' is a double-LP filled with over 2 hours (!!!) of classical-influenced prog rock (it includes 3 tracks of 20+ min. time).This work can be simply described as a nice seminar of energetic classical rock,dominated by Varga's endless organ parts,the powerful,bluesy guitars and the tons of jazz-like improvisations.However,at moments it can be slightly boring with all these endless keyboards solos and classical interprations...but nevertheless this is a recommended album,where music has the first and last word and a great paradigm of how classical music and rock can work together...

Report this review (#163588)
Posted Sunday, March 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of my favourite albums. The keyboards vary of the calm one and melodious one even to the dizziness in spectacular and very quite tipsy arrangements. The mixture between classic music and the rock do from this work a masterpiece and in spite of a great deal of ELP likes, in my opinion the Collegium Musicum they are better. It is pity they are so not much known. This album has the capacity to transport us to different states of mind. The first belt of cd1 is haughty, two next ones are the least interesting but very pleasant ones of hearing. The fourth belt that it is apoteotica, with fabulous arrangements of orchestra and organ and her it finalizes belt is phenomenal with a childlike chorus perfectly fitted in the context. The first belt of cd2 is the best with arrangements of phenomenal Prokofiev. For me, it is undoubtedly a masterpiece of the progressive rock of Europe of the East. Hear with much attention and they do not go away to repent
Report this review (#168705)
Posted Friday, April 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
5 stars There's much of Keith Emerson in Marion Varga's playing, but this double album is more than a tribute to a way of playing the Hammond. There are arrangements of famous classical pieces (Bach, Rimsky-Korsakov and Haydn), together with a pure electronic suite. The shortest song is about 7 minutes, but all the rest is between 12 and 25 minutes in length. Never boring, anyway. There's a good variety of sub-genres, interludes, and very interesting passages. The other group members are very good musicians, too, so even if the Hammond has the "first row", all the ensemble can be apprieciated. The SLOVAKIAN (I wrote hungarian by mistake in the first version of this review, but I was llistening to After Crying actually) lyrics add a bit of exotism and are not "weird" like some English lyrics sung by Germans (I mean the Eloy, just to draw an example). As I mentioned at the beginning, there's much of Keith Emerson, but it's not so relevant as in Par Lindh may be. The composing and the arrangements are original enough to give this album a very high rating. To all the fans of Symphonic prog, not only EL&P.
Report this review (#219929)
Posted Friday, June 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars The art of ELPism.

There is in my view few better, if any, in the art of ELPism than Marian Varga and Collegium Musicum. Hidden behind the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, he and his band released a lot of albums which must have satisfied those who longed for a visit from Keith Emerson and ELP. But Marian Varga and Collegium Musicum is not copycats. Far from it.

This album does undeniable have much of what a good ELP album had. The ELP album that springs to mind is their iconic Welcome To The Show. Partly because parts of Konvergencie is a live album. The long solo runs and the weirdo creations Keith Emerson created, is in abundance on Konvergencie.

The difference between this album and an ELP album is that Collegium Musicum takes the ELP sound a lot further out towards both classical music and avant-garde prog. Soft Machine without the saxophone and brass springs to mind. The other difference is that Collegium Musicum use plenty of guitars. Mostly solo guitars. Some has asked what would had happened if Jimi Hendrix had joined ELP. I think some of the answers is on this album. There are even some Jimi Hendrix sounds and guitar solos on this album.

The end result is an album a fan of Keith Emerson, The Nice and ELP simply need to have in it's record collection. As simple as that. The quality of the music is very high. But I expect nothing less from this band which I rate very highly. This is an album I will listen to again and again. It is simply an excellent album.

4 stars

Report this review (#236765)
Posted Thursday, September 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars EDIT: Expect some historical talks in first paragraphs + Czech point of view. I'm trying to be fair, oh kay ?

Slovakian culture was always compared to Czech one. Maybe that's simply bad approach. Unfair I would say. As Slovaks lacks quantity (they're about 2x smaller nation then we are, so it's nothing strange), they somehow compensate it with quality. Yes, we have Blue Effect, Progres 2, Synkopy and Pražský výběr, but they have Collegium Musicum & Fermata. And even I'm going to rate it with 5-star rating, as I did with some from my country, I have to say that there's a difference. Important fact is that in these times (communism, 70's), our countries were the same, together in one (about 14 million of people I suppose). Historically, our countries were always close and our languages are less similar than Austria/Germany language, but more than Spanish/Portugese. But still, even we were Czechoslovakia then (and for many people we still are, even 17 years after split, sad thing these geographic facts, huh?) and we cooperated a little bit, there were differences.

Of course, cultural, political, geographical, society, these not so nice to stuck yourself into, but hell, they're sometimes important to think about and consider.

But what's good about this situation for me is that I can understand it very, very well. I know historical context, I know about situation that was back then here, I can understand it very well. And I have to say that it's quite helping for understanding it all. Feeling this. EVEN IT'S not the same thing as living in this situation, making music, trying to

Very long album with cover that simply attracts you. Guess what, censors back then probably wasn't happy about this cigarette he's smoking, so on LP cover, this wasn't cover that appeared. Anyway, it was all different, for example on original double LP, just first four songs from "CD 2" appeared. Other are I suppose from somewhere else. Nevermind, when listening this rock attempt on classical music, I have to say that they're better than Beggar's Opera in this. No pathetic parody, pure homage. And not just Homage (talking 'bout first song), but also other like Concerto in D, furious swifting storm, pure prog rock beauty. Other two from first CD are, well, quite good, even they're in shade of these two.

And second side is pure beauty. Its value is unmeasureable and (when talking about it) also unspeakable. If you're lucky / interested / explorer enough, try to find it somewhere and try it for yourself. Let these great atmospheric, little bit psychedelic (crossed with keyboards in a way that you haven't heard before, not even in ELP music). Because this is not stupid Emmerson clone, it's intelligent music full of its own life. And because they almost don't sing, it's international record, everyone can enjoy it in almost the same way. Anyway, Slovak language is pleasant to listen, very soft one (almost too much, something in between Russian and Czech). Oh and Pf 1972 (Pf = Pour féliciter from French, we use it as new year's best wishes)

5(-), and I feel quite confident about it. What do you think ? After all, it's the best that Slovakian music can offer.

Double disk provides lesser proportion of melodies, more improvisations and tries to find their way.

Report this review (#251132)
Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Active for just over a decade before initially folding in 1981, Slovakian band Collegium Musicum, founded by and mostly driven musically by keyboardist Marián Varga, delivered what is probably their defining musical statement in 1971 with their lavish double LP `Konvergencie', an ambitious and varied eighty-two minute opus full of exceptional playing. Offering four extended collections of music (a mix of studio pieces and live performances), each side holds a single multi-sectioned suite of grandiose music crammed with classical aspirations, symphonic bombast, psychedelic mystery and even enjoyable pop/rock pieces, similar to parts of The Nice, the first `Trace' album, Triumvirat, M.Efekt and Focus, with traces of Krautrock daring and the earliest psych-era works of many of the vintage Italian prog bands as they began to branch out with more adventurous music.

Opening twenty-two minute epic `P.F 1972' is a seven-part suite full of infectious pomp, highlighted by Marián Varga's energetic and grand reprising Hammond organ themes. A tastefully swooning organ motif slowly builds in drama, incorporating Franti?ek Griglák's bluesy electric guitar soloing for wilder breaks, shimmering psychedelic dreaminess around softly twinkling cymbals and rambunctious drum bluster. `Part IV' is bookended with an infernal gently-brooding murkiness that is punctuated by searing Hammond blasts, Focus-like fiery guitar wails and maddening staccato piano stabs, the playful and whimsical `Part V' passage wouldn't have sounded out of place on Rick Wakeman's early discs, there's rambunctious feel-good bursts (`Parts III and VII') with Du?an Hájek's crashing drumming, and even a children's choir singing prettily through the second and sixth moments.

Side B's five-part ` Suita po tisíc a jednej noci' is a live performance that incorporates lengthy instrumental jamming passages weaving in and out of themes lifted from Rimsky-Korsakov's `Scheherazade'. Constant pounding drums and plentiful raging electric guitar searing and slow-burn bluesy come-downs remind of both Focus and Finch, and there's some softer jazzier musings, Fedor Freěo's rumbling bass-fuelled deranged call-to-arms and churning hard psychedelic meltdowns. Think a more spontaneous version of E.L.P's `Pictures at an Exhibition', and the rougher recording quality in comparison to the studio sides helps to give the piece an addictive added toughness.

The eight-part `Piesne z kolovrátku' on the third side fuses several kinds of warmly sung vocal pieces with intricate instrumentations, racing through everything from fancy and joyful piano upbeat ballads (part 2 `Piesne z kolovrátku'), quirky ditties and psych fragments (the few `Interludium' sketches), booming organ/choir reflections (`Choral') and energetic pop-rockers (part IV `Tvoj Sneh') within eighteen minutes, reminding of Modry Efekt and even the Beatles.

The twenty-minute `Eufónia' that closes the set is a five-part vacuum of space music distortion. The introduction may be all grooving Hammond whirling around a foot-tapping beat and smouldering electric guitar embers, but the pieces soon mutates into howling psychedelic reaches that almost call to mind the early Pink Floyd years, splintering and reverberating electronic violations (traces of Egg's `Boilk' from their `Police Force' album buried in there!) meandering into Krautrock-like fuzzy explorations and skittering Rick Wright/`Ummagumma'-era cascading piano nightmares before a final trippy space-out of alien voices (most likely that children's choir from the first piece, just given an `alien baby' makeover here!) and a serene ambient organ send-off. It's directionless and hardly cohesive, but a glorious fuzzy mess of tasty noise all the same.

Yes `Konvergencie' is over-indulgent and also a little dated these days, yet it also remains massively inspired and daring, as so many of the best albums from the most adventurous decade of rock music were allowed to be. Ticking a lot of boxes and offering exciting music in a whole range of styles here, just ignore the bland cover, and look forward to the eclectic psychedelic twists and lashings of bombastic symphonic gold within instead from Collegium Musicum!

Four and a half stars.

Report this review (#1685914)
Posted Friday, January 27, 2017 | Review Permalink

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