Jennifer Higdon is not only one of the most acclaimed of contemporary women composers, but one of the most widely performed and appreciated of contemporary American composers in general. Anyone unfamiliar with her work should check out at least one of her albums.
Though not claiming to have synesthesia like Scriabin, color and visual imagery play heavily in her compositional process. Her piano trio, in two movements, attempts to match the mood of the music to the "mood" of two specific colors -- "Pale Yellow" and "Fiery Red." Whether this synthesis of visual and aural arts is successful is largely up to the listener as Higdon certainly achieves two vastly contrasting dispositions. The performance itself is extremely energetic, rhythmically vital, and convincing. In Impressions, Higdon not only tips her hat to Impressionist composers Debussy and Ravel, but also to their canvas counterparts of the same era, again uniting the visual and the auditory. The Cypress Quartet, which commissioned the work, gives a performance that truly highlights the character of the movement titles. Reading Higdon's detailed program notes provides listeners with a further understanding and mental picture of what she's trying to depict; her thoughts and explanations are just as important to the full appreciation of her music as the notes themselves.