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Hyperion Records

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Young Love by Anna Licková
Track(s) taken from CDH55398
Recording details: March 1996
St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Gary Cole
Engineered by Gary Cole
Release date: March 1997
Total duration: 14 minutes 20 seconds

'Excellent performances … a well made and enjoyable record' (Gramophone)

'These performances strike me as nearly ideal … this enchanting Hyperion disc' (Fanfare, USA)

'James Wood y su grupo se apuntan un gran tanto con este CD' (Scherzo, Spain)

Ríkadla 'Nursery Rhymes'
composer
1926; for chamber choir and ten instruments
author of text
Czech folklore

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Ríkadla (‘Nursery Rhymes’) is a series of eighteen choral songs with instrumental introduction. Janácek had originally composed eight of the set in 1925, and extended the number to eighteen a year later, adding the introduction at the same time. The instrumentation, which includes that faintly ridiculous but eminently likeable poor relation of the orchestra’s reed instruments, the ocarina, was deliberately intended to complement the risible atmosphere of these engaging ditties.

But it’s all tremendous fun! From the nuptials of the beetroot and the measured hedgerow stealth of the mole, to wind-blown and ripped trousers, and the tragi-comic picture of the cow in the knacker’s yard serenaded by Franta’s grinding string-bass, the world is that of a child distilled through peculiarly Czech folklore and sentiment.

Yet this is not a world spared pain nor the frightening grotesqueries of the imagination—children parade a pet dog whose tail cannot have become entrapped without their assistance, and a dutiful wife ends up in her own soup! And exactly why is Granny crawling amid the concealing foliage of an elder bush? Could there be a mild hint of xenophobia as a ‘German’ beetle fails to own up after breaking some cooking utensils?—‘the cunning German tells such lies!’

The Ríkadla settings owe their origins to the early neglect of Janácek’s first opera Šárka, which remained unperformed until the mid 1920s. Deeply hurt by the rejection of a work based upon one of the most familiar and terrifying subjects of Czech mythology (the libretto was by Julius Zeyer), the composer decided in 1888 to undertake a systematic study of Moravian folk music. The fruits of his discoveries emerged in his choral idiom and, to an extent, are also reflected in the textual content of the Ríkadla series, though as we have seen these were not written until many years after Janácek’s initial exploration of traditional Moravian music. His experiences, in the course of amassing folk music, were broadly parallelled by episodes in the careers of Bartók, Kodály and, on British soil, of Vaughan Williams.

from notes by Michael Jameson © 1997

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