No 01: Úvod 'Introduction'
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'
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