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MARIÁN VARGA

Symphonic Prog • Slovakia


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Marián Varga picture
Marián Varga biography
Marián Varga is a composer and keyboardist from Slovakia, born in 1947 in Skalica. He was educated in arts and music from the age of 6, but around the age of 20 he left the Bratislava School of Music after three years without graduating.

After leaving the school - he joined the band Prúdy, which he left again after recording their cult album "Zvonte zvonky" (Jingle Bells). Right after he left, the formed the first art rock band of Czechoslovakia, Collegium Musicum. Heavily inspired by The Nice and later Emerson, Lake and Palmer the band became big in their country. Not surprisingly, given their music, Varga got the nick name "The Czechoslovakian Keith Emerson".

The band's repertoire was a mixture of own compositions and re-interpretations of classical pieces. In parallel to his work with Collegium Musicum, he made a couple of albums with fromer Prúdy singer Pavol Hammel and other musicians. On these occassions Radmin Hladik or Peter Peteraj would join on guitar. These albums were different, and sometimes called more pop, than the Collegium Musicum albums. On the latter, an interest in avant-garde music began to appear in Varga's compositions.

This came to full bloom,a few years after Collegium Musicum was disbanded in 1979, on his solo album "Stále tie dni" - which' style has even been compared to Art Zoyd's. From then on, out of interest, his compositions would be created ever more in the form of what is called 'absolute improvisation' or 'real-time composition'.

The agression and bombast of his early Collegium Musicum days do show up regularly, in the form of loud and sometimes atonal progressions.

His cooperation with Hammel and Hladik/Peteraj continued into the 1990s, resulting in a few releases. In 1997, Varga reunited once more with Collegium Musicum drummer Dusan Hájek and bassist Fedor Freso to release the album Collegium Musicum 97.

Up to 2007, Marián Varga is still active, mainly playing live.

Angelo

Marián Varga official website

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MARIÁN VARGA discography


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MARIÁN VARGA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.69 | 22 ratings
Zelen Posta (with Pavol Hammel and Radim Hladik)
1972
3.12 | 12 ratings
Na II. Programe Sna (with Pavol Hammel and Radim Hladik)
1976
3.33 | 3 ratings
Stále tie dni
1984
4.20 | 5 ratings
Vsetko Je Inak (with Pavol Hammel and Kamil Peteraj)
1989
3.80 | 5 ratings
Labutie piesne (with Hammel and Hladík)
1993
3.80 | 5 ratings
Marian Varga & Moyzesovo Kvarteto
2006
3.18 | 2 ratings
Marián Varga + Noneto
2011

MARIÁN VARGA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.60 | 5 ratings
Solo in Concert
2003

MARIÁN VARGA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MARIÁN VARGA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.80 | 5 ratings
Hommage A Marian Varga
2006

MARIÁN VARGA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

MARIÁN VARGA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Zelen Posta (with Pavol Hammel  and Radim Hladik) by VARGA, MARIÁN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.69 | 22 ratings

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Zelen Posta (with Pavol Hammel and Radim Hladik)
Marián Varga Symphonic Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars ''Zelena posta'' is the greatest album in a small series of works created by two mythical figures of ex-Czechoslovakian Rock scene: keyboardist Marián Varga of Collegium Musicum and guitarist Pavol Hammel.Radim Hladik of The Blue Effect fame also participates in the album.It was originally released in 1972 on Opus and many regard it as a lost Collegium Musicum release, as credits also go to bassist Fedor Freso, drummer Dusan Hajek and guitarist Rastislav Vacho, all members of Collegium Musicum.

Musically ''Zelena posta'' sounds as a refined version of COLLEGIUM MUSICUM'S ''Konvergencie'' album, being less raw and psychedelic and much more of a structured affair.The tracks are tightly connected to each other and the album works as a multi-part long symphonic suite full of excellent piano and organ parts in the vein of E.L.P., this means there are plenty of jamming keyboard fanfares delivered in ''Zelena posta'' with a strong sense of virtuosity.However this release offers also plenty of dramatic, lyrical moments, led by Hammel's vocals, which sound quite tasteful with a nice musical background.Hammel's also shines with his guitar work in a mix of underground psych lines and more bluesy/melodic passages.Apparently there are plenty of Classical-inspired interludes among the typical organ textures with a fantastic, bombastic approach, another proof of Varga's unique talent as a composer.Overall ''Zelena posta'' competes as a nice Classical/Symphonic/Psych Rock work full of inventive ideas, innovative performances as well as great vocal arrangements.

For the most of its part, this is a trully beautiful release, coming as a more well-executed version of ''Konvergencie'', with both bombastic and romantic moments.Essential for all fans of rich Symphonic Rock of the 70's...3.5 stars.

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 Marián Varga + Noneto by VARGA, MARIÁN album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.18 | 2 ratings

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Marián Varga + Noneto
Marián Varga Symphonic Prog

Review by Music By Mail

3 stars Again and again, Collegium Musicum's pianist constantly revisits his back catalog! The present album is a double revisit, since it features again the Moyzesovo Kvarteto, a string quartet that already performed Varga's music a few years ago. Here they are part of the Noneto, as this name covers the string quartet + the Slovenské Dychové Kvinteto, a wind quintet consisting of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn. 4+5 = 9, that's Noneto! The album is divided in two parts; the first eleven tracks are featuring Varga with the Noneto and rehash one more time the usual pieces, just with extra colours; Varga plays essentially piano but a few tracks have him playiong on organ too. The second part consists of four movements composed for the string quartet alone. The bottom line? Move on please, Marián! Stop indulging with cheap cosmetic changes and go back to the think box! We'd love so much to hear new material and new inspiration.

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 Na II. Programe Sna (with Pavol Hammel and Radim Hladik) by VARGA, MARIÁN album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.12 | 12 ratings

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Na II. Programe Sna (with Pavol Hammel and Radim Hladik)
Marián Varga Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

3 stars The best of the old Czechoslovakia comes together for an album.

When I mean the best, I mean the best prog/jazz musicians in the business. Marian Varga from Collegium Musicum and Radim Hladik from Blue Effect. Those two and Pavol Hammel. The result is a kind of a super group.

The music is a mix of symph prog with Marian Varga's keyboards. The are as excellent as always. The guitars of Radim Hladik is excellent too. Pavol Hammel adds acoustic guitars and vocals. They are also helped by numerous other musicians.

The result is an album which brings jazz/fusion, symph prog, folk music and pop/rock together on one album. The result is very commercial anno 1975 and very dated anno 2011. But remember this album was made behind the very repressive Iron Curtain for repressed people. People who deserved better than repression. But I am sure this album would had been a big seller here in the West too if it was released here.

This album feels dated today, but it is still a good album. Mostly due to the excellent musicianship of the participating musicians.

3 stars (barely)

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 Na II. Programe Sna (with Pavol Hammel and Radim Hladik) by VARGA, MARIÁN album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.12 | 12 ratings

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Na II. Programe Sna (with Pavol Hammel and Radim Hladik)
Marián Varga Symphonic Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Possibly most capable Czech keyboardist Marian Varga plays with another Collegium Musicum member, acoustic guitarist Pavol Hammel and possibly the best Czech jazz-rock guitarist Radim Hladik (of Blue Effect). This trio is regular project,released few albums.

Music there on this album isn't excellent jazz rock of Blue Effect or more keyboards-based prog fusion of Collegium Musicum. Trio plays quite eclectic mix of early jazz rock (with backing females vocals), Czech folklore and pop-rock. Leading sound comes from Varga's keyboards, guitars both are only supporting instruments. There are more strings quartet on support, but in all the sound is more prog folk, than fusion or symphonic.

Musicianship is great as usual from this three great musicians, and songs are well arranged. Main problem form me, that main material is in fact folk rock, and as very often, compositions are not very diverse. I like some keyboards moments, and often very professional arrangements, but album's genre itself isn't my cup of tea.

Good album for Central European prog folk lovers, but has only limited attractiveness for fans of Blue Effect or Collegium Musicum.

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 Zelen Posta (with Pavol Hammel  and Radim Hladik) by VARGA, MARIÁN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.69 | 22 ratings

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Zelen Posta (with Pavol Hammel and Radim Hladik)
Marián Varga Symphonic Prog

Review by toroddfuglesteg

4 stars Eclectic Prog meets Symphonic Prog.

It is my understanding that this album is very untypical for Collegium Musicum. Normally; they are a symphonic prog band in vein of ELP. But they are cooperating with someone else here (for the record; Hammel and Hladik) and the result is this album.

The album varies between some bouncy songs with similarities to ELP's more funny songs and more poetic, ballad like songs. Some of the ballads are verging on being the type of horror ballads we get in this ghastly Eurovision contest. But the band manages to pull it off. There are still some strong ELP elements here. VDGG has been mentioned and they certainly put their VDGG influences to good use. There are actually a lot of references to the Italian Symphonic Prog scene on this album and I think fans of this scene cannot go wrong with this album. Add some jazz and folk rock to the mix and this is the album you get with Zelená Posta.

The main instruments are keyboards and guitars, this being a cooperation between a keyboardist and two guitarists. The guitars are mostly distorted, although with normal melodic solos. The keyboards are in the Keith Emerson style. The rhythm-sections is excellent. The same can be said about the vocals.

The quality of this album is very high and I never ever loose interest in the music. I have some reservations towards their other albums, but this one has charmed me into submission.

4 stars

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 Na II. Programe Sna (with Pavol Hammel and Radim Hladik) by VARGA, MARIÁN album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.12 | 12 ratings

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Na II. Programe Sna (with Pavol Hammel and Radim Hladik)
Marián Varga Symphonic Prog

Review by Salviaal

3 stars This second collaborative album between Pavol Hammel, Marian Varga and Radim Hladik, came out 4 years after "Zelena Posta". It seems as though Hammel had more to do with this one than Varga did, as there is even a stronger pop tint on it than on the great '72 album. One of the most important developments here is the first time Varga used synthesizers on recordings, to my knowledge, but it still has plenty of organ, and is sonically balanced compared to the disaster "Continuo" that would happen a few years later.

Simplifying the situation we can say that side 1 of the record was the proggier side of the album, with the four longest songs being the most interesting. The title track is a driving tune based on an Emerson-inspired organ motif. "Letia husi" has some interesting mods on the organ, a good chorus in 5/4 and some seriously frantic soloing by Varga. "S chodnikom na chrbte" is a more straightforward rock jam, despite being the longest track the album, but it features some awesome soloing by both Varga and Hladik. Finally, "Lalia polna" is a fairly simple choral piece, but very effective and beautiful, perhaps the single highlight here.

The second side is comprised of some no more than decent pop-rock songs. "V zelenej pamati" in particular is the rock bottom of the album with its latin-pop flavor, and Varga doesn't even play on it. Similarly the dixieland-infused album closer leaves this listener with a bad taste in his mouth.

Overall, if you thought that "Zelena Posta" was a masterpiece then you will also like "Na 2. programe sna", although half of it sounds like pop-rock of the times, and would have been better left for a solo Hammel album. The nice thing is that there is a double-cd edtion that has both albums on it.

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 Zelen Posta (with Pavol Hammel  and Radim Hladik) by VARGA, MARIÁN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.69 | 22 ratings

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Zelen Posta (with Pavol Hammel and Radim Hladik)
Marián Varga Symphonic Prog

Review by Salviaal

4 stars "Zelena Posta" was not truly a Collegium Musicum album but rather a collaborative album between Varga, Hammel and Hladik, although Hladik only played on a handful of tracks. The rhythm section was Collegium's one though, and both Vacho and Hammel had already made appearances on "Collegium Musicum" and "Konvergencie" so this can easily qualify as a honorary Collegium Musicum album. However the music is much more focused than on most CM albums, as it is a collection of compact songs, rather than a collection of lengthy jams with frequent quotations from classics.

"Domaca uloha" is a short orchestral piece written by Varga when he was just 15 years old, already showing great inclination towards ironic composition. "Z datelin" is an understated and gorgeous ballad. "Smutna ranna electricka" is a gloomy swinging number in 6/8 with memorable melodies. On the merrier side of things we have "Tenis" and "Krajina bielych dievcat", both with a joyful major-key feel, similar to Caravan's "In a Land of Grey and Pink". And then we have the demented "Cesty blaznou", with a frantic theme in 9/8 and a very rough guitar solo.

"Zelena posta" remains a very well balanced album, and should not be overlooked in favor of the more bombastic works like "Konvergencie", because it is just as good, and shows a different side of Collegium Musicum.

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 Zelen Posta (with Pavol Hammel  and Radim Hladik) by VARGA, MARIÁN album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.69 | 22 ratings

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Zelen Posta (with Pavol Hammel and Radim Hladik)
Marián Varga Symphonic Prog

Review by rachotilko

4 stars Although being biased by being Slovak person myself, I simply have to confess that I am amazed by this wonderful music. Although Varga is most often referred to as the one who made long tracks of classical-music-inspired prog, I believe that the song form of this album's compositions suited him the best.

Varga's exceptionally gifted musicianship, supernatural inspiration and virtuosity is combined here with some best rock lyrics ever written in Slovak language, like existentionalist lyrics for "Smutna ranna elektricka (Sad morning tram)" by poet Miroslav Valek. The result is a gentle intellectual beauty which one can almost doubt that it emerged in the spiritually dull era of Brezhnev-type communism.

I am afraid that the qualities of this masterpiece are had to be fully appreciated without understanding Slovak.

Regarding some tracks:

1. Domáca Úloha (Homework) - A real homework made by 15-years old Varga as a student of classical composition

2. Z D'Atelín (From the grass) - I wish I could express my love to a woman using these words !!!

4. Smutná Ranná Elektricka (Sad morning tram) - A poem about terrible sufferings of love.

5. Krajina Bielych Dievcat (Country of the white girls) - Completelly crazy lyrical song about a dream trip to a country of the white girls. They would greet us with white flowers, and we fly with them in the baloon.

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