Hyperion Records

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

'Janáček: Choral Music' (CDH55398)
Janáček: Choral Music
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55398  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)   Download currently discounted
No 01: Úvod 'Introduction'
Track 1 on CDH55398 [0'30] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
No 02: Rípa se vdávala 'The beetroot got married'
No 03: Není lepší jako z jara 'There's nothing better than Springtime'
No 04: Leze krtek 'The mole creeps'
No 05: Karel do pekla zajel 'Karel rode off to hell'
No 06: Roztrhané kalhoty 'Ripped trousers'
No 07: Franta rasu hrál na basu 'Franta the knacker's son played the bass-fiddle'
No 08: Náš pes, náš pes … 'Our dog, our dog …'
No 09: Delám, delám kázání … 'I'm giving a little talk …'
No 10: Stará bába carovala 'The old woman was making magic'
No 11: Hó, hó, krávy dó … 'Ho, ho, off go the cows …'
No 12: Moje zena malucická … 'My tiny little wife …'
No 13: Bába leze do bezu … 'Granny's crawling into the elder bush …'
No 14: Koza bílá hrušky sbírá 'A white goat's picking pears'
No 15: Nemec brouk, hrnce tlouk 'German-beetle broke some pans'
No 16: Koza lezí na sene 'A goat is lying in the hay'
No 17: Vašek, pašek, bubeník 'Vašek, pašek, the drummer'
No 18: Frantíku, Frantíku 'Frantík, Frantík'
No 19: Sedel medvid' na kolodi 'The bear sat on a tree trunk'

Ríkadla 'Nursery Rhymes'
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

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDH55398 track 5
Karel do pekla zajel 'Karel rode off to hell'
Recording date
16 March 1996
Recording venue
St Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Gary Cole
Recording engineer
Gary Cole
Hyperion usage
  1. Janácek: Choral Music (CDA66893)
    Disc 1 Track 5
    Release date: March 1997
    Deletion date: July 2009
    Superseded by CDH55398
  2. Janácek: Choral Music (CDH55398)
    Disc 1 Track 5
    Release date: April 2012
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
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