In the early 1982, I heard a curious song on the radio.
I was twelve. My parents liked it too. I guess I wasn't old enough yet for that to kill the deal.
Here it is. Midnight Blue by Louise Tucker. Do you happen to recognize the melody?
(This fan video is actual better than the original, uber-hokey video from 1982. Some intense images...but that ending really turned my head around. Jesus shows up? Whoa. But I digress.)
Roll forward seven years. I was a freshman in college trying to take some good advice. I was getting out and seeing performances and lectures and extra things like that (I could have done more). I attended a Beethoven pianoforte concert, the instrument that Beethoven composed on. (The piano as we know it today wasn't quite invented yet.)
Anyway, along came a sonata in three movements. Pathetique. I was moderately interested. But when the second movement came, the adagio cantabile, my breath caught. I knew that! Thanks to Louise Tucker!
This piece of music ranks as one of the beautiful melodies ever written. It still hits me, even after hearing it countless times. But this performance by Freddie Kempf is truly stunning. As one of the video commenters on YouTube said so perfectly: "Most people who play piano are capable of playing this song, playing it at this level however is truly amazing. It's in the subtleties [and] anyone who has tried to play it can hear this! Special performance, very controlled!"
I can't agree more. Of all the versions I've heard, this is the one performance where the pianist transcends everything holding him down. He utterly "gets it." It's a piece that can become very mechanical when you play it. It takes a touch of something dark and sweet to lift the melody and dance its slow melancholy waltz.
I also think this piece has one of the most genius, simple, and enchanting endings ever. Like the end of a fanciful reflection. The pieces of the daydream are laid to rest.