If you’ve followed my writings about new music, or at least since September, you may remember me mentioning a friend of mine who was going to listen to some new music that I recommended (which I’ve since deleted the references to, as my first plans to do this fell through and the article was going out in a newsletter). This friend had little to no experience with classical music outside of film score (which we both agree with Anne Midgette that it’s a good introduction to classical music), so this would be a step beyond dipping a toe in with some Mozart or Brahms. His name is Alex Wiederspiel, he is the current faculty advisor at our old college radio station, U92, and is also the news director at another radio station in West Virginia. The pieces I assigned him were John Adams’ Absolute Jest, Caroline Shaw’s Partita for 8 Voices, Max Richter’s recomposition of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Concerto, and Kevin Puts’ Four Airs. When he finishes them, I will update this post with his written opinions on the works—this will be after his second or third listens to these pieces. We had a talk about his first impressions, and here that is!
At some point, we’ve agreed that I will give him a “level 2” of sorts; some music that isn’t quite as immediately palatable as this list (I’ve played three of these on the radio). If you’ve listened to these works (check your streaming services; they’re all there), what are your first impressions?