Wow, are there really teachers that would give Debussy’s Danses to a relative beginner? That’s just insane. Aside from the technical difficulty of playing it correctly it is just filled with such subtleties and nuances that I can’t see a beginner appreciating all that goes into it much less play it.
The Handel seems like a much better place to start. It really isn’t a very difficult piece and it is so familiar that even most beginners have heard enough different performers play it to start to notice the various differences in interpretations and performances to begin to appreciate what can be done with it.
Thomson’s Autumn? I never would have thought of that one but I think it is a good choice. Odd that it never came to mind. I love Virgil Thomson’s work.