Not colourful, but more slavic
Javier Bezos Lopez | Madrid, Spain | 12/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While the Ravel orchestration is no doubt a masterpiece, I sometimes find it too colourful, in particular the saxophone in the Old Castle, where Funtek prefers the English horn - the effect is wonderful and I much prefer his election to Ravel's. In addition, Funtek does not omit the Promenade between Samuel Goldenberg und Schmuyle and Limoges. In general, the sounds are more "slavic" in character than Ravel's orchestration. Perhaps not "genial", as Ravel's, but I think closer to the spirit of the Mussorgsky work. Both composers tackled the orchestration independently and at the same time (1922)."
Very dull 'Pictures'.
Kimba W. Lion | the East Coast | 10/27/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"If, like an earlier reviewer, you find Ravel's familiar orchestration of "Pictures" to be "too colorful", this may be just the CD for you. Not only is Funtek's arrangement severely bland, the conducting is nothing exciting, either.
I admit I cherish opportunities to revel (no pun intended) in extravagant orchestral colors. I currently am enthralled by Isao Tomita's 1966 arrangement of "Pictures" for orchestra (plus harpsichord, mandolin, whistler, chorus, etc.). Funtek's arrangement just sort of lies there and doesn't do much. Oh, sure, there are some nice touches, but they are few and far between. I greatly miss the throbbing bass line in The Old Castle, of which there is nothing but a pale shadow here. On the other hand, the use of flutes in The Great Gate of Kiev comes across as comic, but I don't think it was meant to be.
It may have helped Funtek's case if the performance weren't so lethargic. Tuileries should evoke children arguing in a playground, not children on the verge of dropping off to sleep. The chicks in their shells are droopy, too. Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle practically puts me to sleep. And so it goes through the whole piece--I can envision the Great Gate beginning to crumble before the music ends.
I had the impression that the sound of the recording itself is bland; a bit soft. Re-listening, I can't seriously fault the engineering except for a bit of congestion in loud passages; probably Funtek's (lack of) orchestral colors influenced my initial perception. The recording features a dynamic range greater than what I consider practical for home listening, but some people like that sort of thing."
Different version of Pictures..
Michael Dyckman | West Orange, NJ USA | 01/18/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Interesting version of Pictures... - this is not the Ravel orchestration, but is by Leo Funtek. Not as much orchestral color as Ravel's, though. The Night on Bald Mountain and Songs and Dances of Death are well performed."