Last night, I attended Dominic (First Son)'s first-ever piano recital.
It was an evening that brought back a lot of memories, partially because I've got such vivid recollections of my own recital(s), and partially because it featured a familiar musical guest, performed by one of the more advanced students: the opening movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata #14 in C-sharp minor, (far) more commonly known as "The Moonlight Sonata."
As the piece was announced, I'll admit that I deflated slightly. The "Adagio sostenuto" hews dangerously close to Pachelbel's Canon territory for me: a piece that is so frequently heard and performed that it's lost much of its musical impact. But as I listened to the slow, rippling (and incredibly familiar) cords last night, I realized that being exasperated with the piece's ubiquity (and thinking myself bored before it had even begun) was masking an important truth:
It's spectacular music. And it deserves to be every bit as beloved as it is.
Sure, it's easy to become over-saturated, musically. Happens to all of us. But every now and again, I need to remember to step back and recognize why it is that some pieces have become so famous. Often, it's because they're truly wonderful. And worthy of all the praise they receive.
I'm sharing Stephen Kovacevich's rendition below because I'm pretty much always a fan of his work with Beethoven. But here's Barenboim's, by way of comparison. And after that, you could try Ashkenazy's. And Gilels, as well. And finish it all off with Glenn Gould's breakneck finale. Just make sure you've got a seat-belt.