The best advertisement for Labrītiņi, rītiņā is our 4-year-old son. He just loves it! He’s fascinated by the songs and rhymes and the children who sing them. Right away he recognized the couple of pieces that were already in our family’s repertoire, and he has since picked up several more. In fact, when the compact disc comes to an end and I go to put in another one, he protests. Every time. Need any more reason to get this recording?
The children singing on Labrītiņi, rītiņā are plain, regular kids, aged about three to six, from a school in Jūrmala, Latvia. Actually, they are all pupils of Ilga Reizniece of the world music band Iļģi. On this recording Reizniece also provides many of the accompaniments, as well as a vocal motherly nudge here and there.
The CD doesn’t sound so much as a performance as it sounds like walking into a room of preschoolers going about their daily activities. They sing songs and tell rhymes, sometimes giggling in between: jājam, jājam mēs ar zirgu… cepu, cepu kukulīti… ar vilciņu Rīgā braucu… dop, dop Rīgā… vāru, vāru putriņu… sitam plaukstiņas… sīkas, mazas meitenītes… kur tad tu nu biji, āzīti manu?… Dievs nosvieda bumbuli zemē… etc.
Labrītiņi, rītiņā does not try to make recording artists out of young children. Just the opposite: the idea behind this project is to have the children and their performance of the songs sound as natural as possible. So, no synthesizers and drum sets. Out-of-tune notes and changes in tempo are forgiven. The shy child is helped along by the teacher. This is not the Rīga Dome Boys’ Choir or the poppy Neparastie rīdzinieki, nor does it try to compare with them.
Instead of the elaborate (and often annoying) arrangements so common on many Latvian children’s recordings, the arrangements on Labrītiņi, rītiņā are appropriately simple and unobtrusive. A kokle here, a guitar there, a quiet whistle or drum is all. The words can be understood fairly well, but all the texts are written in the liner notes so that it’s easy to follow along and learn the songs. The translations are good, with the exception of a couple of odd words. For those who do not know Latvian, the texts will probably often sound silly or senseless. But keep in mind that many of the rhymes are actually little finger or lap games with accompanying motions, kind of like "This little piggy went to market."
Reizniece stresses that folklore is inseparable from everyday life, that folklore is life. She writes: "Folklore has never been a school subject; it’s the very life of our ancestors simply given a foreign name. And if it is not lived daily, but once or twice a week for half an hour, it can remain incomprehensible and unloved." With this recording parents can help to make traditional Latvian songs and rhymes a part of their children’s—and their own—everyday lives.
Although it’s the perfect thing for young children, I honestly don’t know whether I would listen to this CD much if I had no children. That’s probably because I’m just not one of those people who finds young children irresistably cute (except my own, of course!). But, even though I’m not a "cute" person, the cuteness of several of the tracks has really grown on me.
Labrītiņi, rītiņā definitely has children’s appeal. A former Latvian school director I recently spoke to suggested that every Latvian school and family with young children ought to have this CD.
Latviešu tautas mūzikas kolekcija
UPE Recording Co., 2002
UPE CD 028
Where to buy
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