Our Favorite New Classical and Folk Releases of 2016

After listening through new Iowa classical music releases from 2016, Iowa Public Radio host Barney Sherman says that Iowa tends to excel in classical genres and ensemble types that are a off the beaten path and under performed  in major metropolitan areas.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Sherman about his favorite new Iowa classical music for 2016. During this hour, we also hear about some of best new folk music for 2016, curated by Karen Impola, host of Iowa Public Radio's The Folk Tree and University Concert.

BARNEY SHERMAN'S CLASSICAL PICKS:

1. Amara Piano Quartet - “Carolina Reveille” by Paul Schoenfield, from their album, “American Piano Quartets”

"Residents at Iowa State University, they are the new and awesome incarnation of the Ames Piano Quartet, the world’s foremost resident piano quartet."

2. Trio 826 - “Dance” by Hans Krasa, from their album “Mosaic”

"Two Iowa artists and one ringer surveying a huge range of music for violin, viola, and cello including two new Iowa tracks."

Trio 826 - Hannah Holman, Susanna Klein, and Julia Bullard on the road
Credit JULIABULLARD.COM

3. Saxophonist Kenneth Tse and the Mi-Bemol Ensemble - “Saxflight” by Alain Crepin from their self-titled CD.

"The saxophone has been an outsider in the classical world, maybe because its association with band and jazz music caused condescension, but it has a great classical repertory. Iowa is a world leader in performing it. People come from around the world to study with Kenneth Tse at the University of Iowa and Dave Camwell at Simpson, and both have notable CDs out in 2016."

4. Saxophonist Dave Camwell, Mike Eckerty on the oboe, and Christy Eckerty playing piano - Mendelssohn "Piano Trio no. 1" slow movement, as transcribed by Camwell, from their Mendelssohn album.

5. Oleg Timofeyev and his Russian Guitar Quartet - “Along the meadow” by Mily Balakirev, from their album “A Tribute to the Mighty Handful."

Oleg Timofeyev with a theorbo, Jeffrey Cohan with five of his flutes - in Ukraine, 2010.

6. Oleg Timofeyev, playing a Renaissance lute - “King Harry the Eighth’s Pavan” from his album “Elizabethan Pavans.”

"Iowa is the world capital of the Russian seven-string guitar, thanks to Oleg Timofeyev of Iowa City. He was by far this year's most prolific recording artist, with 10 CDs out his year, covering everything from the Tudor lute to Russian-Roma music of our time."

7. Soprano Rachel Joselson singing “Ukolebavka” (Lullaby) by Ilse Weber, from the album "Songs of the Holocaust" (Albany 1627) with pianist Rene Lecuona, violinist Scott Conklin, and cellist Hannah Holman.

"Rachel Joselson teaches at the University of Iowa. She put out an album of “Songs of the Holocaust” (Albany 1627) featuring songs by a composer who died in the death camps. In it, she brings forth some truly heartfelt, beautiful singing (and fine playing by other faculty members like Rene Lecuona and Tony Arnone)."

8. The Prairie Song Project - by mezzo-soprano Kathryn Goeldner, Amy Morris on flute, and Michael Heaston playing piano, an excerpt from “Paradox” by Peter Ash with words by Willa Cather on their self-titled album featuring music and words from composers and/or poets with Midwestern roots.

"Kathy and Amy are University of Iowa graduates. Kathy sings major roles at the Met and Salzburg Festival, but gets home to teach and do benefits for her alma mater."

9. duoJalal - "Lamentation" by the Italian composer Giovanni Sollima, from their album "Shadow & Light: The Rumi Experience."

"We forget that Cedar Rapids has a Lebanese community going back to the 1890s. Yousif Sharoneck's grandfather came over then, his mother in the 1940s. Yousif is a graduate of Jefferson High (his brother was state accordion champion in high school), and the University of Iowa. He's now renowned internationally, working with the likes of Philip Glass, Yo-Yo Ma, and Paul Winter; Kathryn Lockwood, violist, is his wife, and member of a famous string quartet in her other work. The name Jalal was the first name of the Sufi poet Rumi, and the works here are inspired by him."

10. Heartland Marimba Festival - "Music for Five Marimbas" by Anthony Di Bartolo, from their "Heartland Marimba Dances" album.

11. Susana Ogata, violin, and Ian Watson, fortepiano - Beethoven’s “Spring Sonata” from their complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas, vol. 2.

"We don't have a period instrument scene, exactly, but we've produced some champion players."

12. Pianist Richard Steinbach - "Valse So” by the Brazilian composer Ronaldo Miranda, from Steinbach’s album "Fusion: New Music for a New Age."

Credit Courtesy of Richard Steinbach

13. Pianist and executive director of the Quad City Symphony Benjamin Loeb’s transcription of a duet from Verdi’s opera "The Force of Destiny" with the distinguished violinist Livia Sohn, and her equally distinguished husband, violist Geoff Nuttall, from their CD, Opera Fantasies for Violin, vol. 2.

KAREN IMPOLA'S FOLK PICKS:

1. Nathan Bell - "Names" off the album "Blood Like a River"

"This song is haunting in its simplicity."

2. Charm City Junction - "Greasy Coat" off the album "Charm City Junction"

"This track has interesting instrumentation. It's an old-timey string band, but features an accordion."

3. Kaia Kater - "Nine Pin" off the album "Nine Pin"

"Kaia Kater is an Afro-Carribean-Canadian banjo player - 'Where bluegrass meets Nina Simone.'"

4. Banjo Nickaru and his Western Scooches - "This Little Light of Mine" off the album "Very Next Thing"

"This song is an interesting blend of traditional American folk music and jazz."

5. The Full English - "Arthur O’Bradley" off the album "The Full English"

"An all-star cast of English folk musicians. This band comes out of a project put together by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, to create a database from the work of early 20th century folksong collectors."

6. Ivas John - "Roll Mississippi" off the album "Good Days a Comin'"

"This is solid country/bluegrass playing. It's an original song, but sounds like it’s always existed."

7. Patrick Landeza - "Pauoa Ka Liko Ka Lehua" off the album "Nahe’olu"

"This track features some Hawaiian slack key guitar. It's just beautiful, soothing music."

8. Eileen Ivers - "Linin’ Track / Paddy on the Railway" off the album "Beyond the Bog Road"

"This song mixes two traditions - songs of Irish and African-American railroad builders."

9. Michael Doucet and Tom Rigney - "Chasing the Devil" off the album "Cajun Fandango"

"This is some hot fiddling!"

10. The Jeremiahs - "North Sea Holes" from the album "The Jeremiahs"

"This is an up-and-coming young Irish band. The song was written by the great Ewan MacColl."

11. Blackberry Bushes Stringband - "Same Mistakes" off the album "Three Red Feathers"

"Their fiddler, Jakob Breitbach, is from Dubuque."

12. The Cantrells - "‘Twas a Full Moon Ago" off their album "Weather Reports"

"This is just a beautiful song with beautiful singing."