Here is the list from Bachtrack of the Top 10 contemporary works. Since some of these I have never heard, I thought it might be interesting to give them a listen.
Top 10 contemporary works
|1=||Nunc dimittis (Arvo Pärt)|
|1=||Film music from Star Wars (John Williams)|
|3.||The Deer’s Cry (Arvo Pärt)|
|4.||Danzón no.2 (Arturo Márquez)|
|5.||Scheherazade.2, (John Adams)|
|6=||Fratres, (Arvo Pärt)|
|6=||Short Ride in a Fast Machine, (John Adams)|
|8=||Con brio (Jörg Widmann)|
|8=||Orawa (Wojciech Kilar)|
|10.||Other film music (John Williams)|
Arvo Pärt I know fairly well, of course, but Nunc dimittis is not on the CD collection I have of his music, though I may have heard it on YouTube. Here is performance by the Elora Festival singers.
This is an a cappella work and as such does not have the interesting timbres we find in Pärt's instrumental music. It is a very nice piece, of course, as one would expect. Very meditative and peaceful, which is probably why it is popular. The most liked classical music these days seems often to be the stuff that is the most relaxing. We lead tense lives, it seems.
I don't think we need to say much about the music for Star Wars. Very appropriate and excellent film music.
Then another piece by Arvo Pärt that I don't know, The Deer's Cry. This is another a cappella work somewhat similar to Nunc dimittis, but with a different kind of texture, less sustained, more pointillist. The performers are the Erebus Ensemble:
I do know the Danzón no. 2 by Arturo Márquez, a Mexican composer. This is the kind of infectious Latin American music that we guitarists have a lot of. There are lovely syncopated dance pieces from Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, all over. This is not what I usually think of when I think of contemporary music, but hey. The performers are Gustavo Dudamel, and, I think, the Bolivar Youth Orchestra:
Next we have Scheherazade.2 by John Adams, as Wikipedia says, a "dramatic symphony" for violin and orchestra. This is a lengthy work and is in four clips on YouTube. The performers are Leila Josefowitz (for whom Salonen's Violin Concerto was also written) and the St. Louis Symphony conducted by David Robertson. Blogger will not embed, so here are the links:
Now that is quite interesting. I am wondering how BachTrack comes up with these statistics as there doesn't seem to be any information on the site. Anyone have an idea? Is this piece really this popular? How is it measured? Are the numbers just for the US? Anyway, let's stop here for now, halfway through the list.