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Collegium Musicum - Collegium Musicum Live  CD (album) cover


Collegium Musicum

Symphonic Prog

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5 stars First live album from this outstanding band. MARIÁN VARGA is a fabulous organ player and their covers of some classical music to rock and fusion are incredible. Their sound is closer to ELP, but a little more jazzier. Not less virtuoso than EMERSON, FRITZ or VAN DER LINDEN, VARGA deliver us music full of breaks, jazzier and classical parts, and otherwise, drums and also bass solos, as the ability of HÁJEK is very noteworthy and the bass lines played by FRESO are quite strong and enjoyable, in the vein of CHRIS SQUIRE. I don't know if they were the Czeschoslovakian answer to ELP, because they appeared at the same time, anyway, I can find some small similarities with THE NICE, but overall, I think these guys could play very nice music and their style is rather unique. Much more original and spontaneous than TRACE or TRIUMVIRAT, that's why they are one of my favourite bands. Rather precious and unique. Five stars.
Report this review (#46602)
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars "Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends, ladies and gentlemen .. COLLEGIUM MUSICUM!! After a few minutes listening to their music (live recordings from 1973) I had almost made this review because it's so obvious derived from early ELP ("Pictures .."-era): an omnipresence of the powerful Hammond organ (bombastic floods and flashy runs), a propulsive, metallic sounding bass and fluent drumming. The band plays less virtuosic and less fiery but they sound tight and inspired, these are good musicians who enjoy themselves and please their crowd. Only the drum solo sounds a bit boring but in those days every drummer got the opportunity to shows his skills! A fine album for Hammond aficionados.
Report this review (#51919)
Posted Saturday, October 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars Third album from the Slovak (well Czech also back then) Collegium Musicum became the Eastern Block's ELP/The Nice, especially now that guitarist Griglak had left to found Fermata. Actually this could be considered as the group's fourth album, as the remaining trio had recorded with Pavol Hammel an album called Zelena Posta, but it wasn't credited to CM. So came this Live album holding four tracks (two aside) that are totally based on reworks of the classical master composers.

Soundwise, there is little doubt that the reduced line-up is limiting the group's spectrum to an ELP almost-clone (no singing bassist), and not much else! In some ways, the arrangements resemble also Ekseption or Trace, Focus or Finch, as the group seems content of just putting drums and bass parts to the music that's played on a single organ. You can easily imagine, the Slovaks making incredible sacrifice for a western electric instrument during the Cold War, let alone investing into a second one. One of the things that bugs me is that all of those borrowed passages from the master composers are not acknowledge, therefore making the borrowings grow into rip-offs.

Unlike some other groups like Plastic People Of The Universe (who were regularly busted as they inspired themselves from Velvet Underground and rebellion), it is easy to imagine that CM benefited from a sort of "approval" from the communist regime, since they made easy access to the classical master to the younger generations. Judging by the inside photos from the group's stage performance, they were at least playing in theatres or movie houses, shows which no doubt were at least not banned from the state police. Nevertheless, I suggest you start your discovery of CM with another album.

Report this review (#133172)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Welcome back my friends........

Once upon a time, there was something called The Iron Curtain. Behind it, a big and very creative music scene was bereft from any ideas from the free world. The distribution of albums from western bands was very limited. Rotten tapes and bootlegs, mostly. So they took what they got and made music out of it. COLLEGIUM MUSICUM is one of these bands and nobody should knock them. Everybody has a lot of admiration for today's heavy metal scene in Iran and Iraq. With the same token, we should also respect bands like COLLEGIUM MUSICUM.

But then again, I cannot help smiling when listening to this album. The references to ELP's Picture Of An Exhibition and Welcome Back My Friends runs thicker that blood. Add the avant-garde parts of DEEP PURPLE's Made In Japan and you have the full story. The keyboards is so Keith Emerson (with a little help from John Lord) that this live album has to be regarded as a tribute to him. Then again; you have bands like THE WATCH who has made a good career out of sounding like GENESIS. No, I am not knocking COLLEGIUM MUSICUM at all. I just want to point out the similarities.

Music wise, the four songs on this album is pretty good. Not classics, but still pretty good. The drum solo on the last song is pretty daft, but still forgiven. I am a big fan of the above mentioned ELP live albums and it is fair to say that COLLEGIUM MUSICUM is making my heart strings sing like a nightingale. I am failing to notice much of a live audience here, but the music is good. If I can get hold of more albums from COLLEGIUM MUSICUM, I will definate purchase them. In the meantime, this album is good enough for me.

3 stars

Report this review (#214341)
Posted Friday, May 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another great album for this Chec Republic band. I thik that is the first live album made by then, in a country of Iron Courtain when is prohibited Rock and Roll in comunist ideology. In begining of 70 years, made a live album in this context is an adventure that in some cases they pay with prison. Great keyboards performance. Not the sound because the low quality of music material and the dificult to find good music instruments, it was obliging that the musicians made a great performances. Great bass, great drum's and great not comercial music. To me, this band is one of my favourites that i ever heard and with a strong classical inspiration. I hope that I can see a live performance of this band because they made a great concert's today but this cd's are hard to find in music stores. A masterpiece of East progressive music and all progressive world in a special context. Five star's for a great work
Report this review (#237101)
Posted Friday, September 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars The lineup and the instrumentist's skills, and also the kind of music can not make the listener think to an Emerson Lake and Palmer clone, but please look at the release dates: this live album was released one year after Picture at an Exhibition. If you think to the complexity of the compositions, how long do you think the band has taken to compose, rehearse, arrange and play it live? Of course Marian Varga can have take inspiration from Keith Emerson's work with the Nice and in the early ELP, but he's a skillful keyboardist who lives and plays in a country which has a strong cultural background in classical music and was also on the other side of the iron curtain. Are we sure that they have listened to the ELP albums released in 1972 before composing the four tracks of this album?

Let's quit here the discussion about cloning or not and concentrate on the music only.

The first beats of "Burleska" can effectively remind to Picture at an Exhibition, but most of the track is closer to Grieg than to Mussorsky. Of course it's an instrumental track full of different moments. The "Mussorsky part" opens and closes it circularily.

The second track is split in two parts mainly because of vinyl restrictions. IN this track there's room also for the other instrumentists, not only for Varga. In Part1 there's a remarkable bass solo, and to my ears the source of inspiration for the composition is Stravinskij. Part 2 is a bit more chaotic, and effectively the distorted remind to Rimsky-Korsakov sounds very Emersonian. The long keyboard interlude (not properly a solo) is a little boring, but it's counterbalanced by the excellent final of the track which has a huge number of different signatures.

The last track, "Monumento" starts with a bass harping. I still hear Stravinskij (Rites of Spring) in the initial organ notes. Now also the drummer Dusan Hájek has his moment. It's not a solo but his drums are really in evidence. AFter some minutes basically of drums and bass with little intervents from the keyboards a true drum solo starts. It's 1973, a long drum solo can't be missed in a live album of this kind. As many other solos of this kind this is a bit too long and the coda too short.

In brief, this album is very far from that masterpiece that's Konvergencie. This album fits perfectly in the 3-stars definition, also because CM albums are usually not cheap. If you have some extra money to spend on this band, go for Konvergencie.

Report this review (#1056249)
Posted Tuesday, October 8, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars First new material after the ingenious "Konvergencie", this is a live album at the same time. Left without a guitar player, Collegium Musicum soldiered for some time as a trio. Varga logically outshined his two members on this album as his keyboards are almost everywhere. I think it's partly inspired by classical music as the name and some sections suggest. "Si nemozna (You are impossible)" with two parts has a fantastic opening with deeply progressive and frenetic interplay among a chord motive. The bass is less memorable. Varga again resorts to more experimental playing on Hammond with non-melodic runs. "Monument" has an overly long drum solo and is otherwise dominated by powerful Hammond.

Even though there are a couple of strong moments, the live is not always easy to digest and it takes longer time to understand why Varge played it the way he did.

Report this review (#2509166)
Posted Friday, February 26, 2021 | Review Permalink

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