The Good King Wenceslas(Písen dobrém knízeti Václavu)
by Jaroslav Kricka
edited by Nick Strimple
Review from The Choral Journal, September, 1998
Nick Strimple has edited this stunning setting of a Czech translation of the familiar John Mason Neale poem. Both English and Czech texts are included, with a detailed Czech pronunciation guide at the end of the score. Strimple gives explicit instructions in the concise notes regarding the compositional style of Jaroslav Kricka (1882-1969) and the historical background of the piece.
Kricka uses a traveling melodic line to affect the color of the various sections of the work. All voice parts have divisi, and the ranges are challenging for young singers (soprano f1-e flat2; alto b flat-e flat2; tenor f-a flat1; bass E-d flat1). The tenor part could be difficult to sustain in a brief section where they provide an e flat1 pedal tone for ten bars. The individual parts will be easy to teach, yet the combination of parts may be difficult, making the piece best suited for a collegiate choir.
Sections of the piece include a rich, all-male setting of "Sire the night is darker now," whole note settings of "Mark my footsteps, mark my page," with an almost pure homophonic setting (tutti) of "In his master’s steps he trod…," stretching to the whole note "blessing" at the conclusion of the work.
This setting of The Good King Wenceslas, with a performance time of four minutes, is a must for collegiate library and performance hall. The performers and conductor will travel through the journey of the tale as if they were a part of the story.
Review by Lisa A. Billingham