I'd written before about combining two existing recordings, but those pianists didn't have to listen to (or ignore) each other. Here's how that experiment came out, with no cuts or tempo alterations, but with some judicious fading up and down of the separate tracks.
I've listened to it a lot and there are many seemingly purposeful moments that I like, including:
- 0:06 Debussy's second gesture bounces perfectly off of Beethoven's downbeat
- 0:17-0:24 Debussy waits for Beethoven's dotted figure to land before exhaling
- 2:00-2:20 Wonderful combined harmonies, with Beethoven sitting on a pedal G-sharp and Debussy anchored first a fifth below on C-sharp (spelled as D-flat) and by the same G-sharp (spelled as A-flat) at 2:14. The R.H. quarter notes in Beethoven weave in and out of Debussy's arpeggios like lost souls on a cloudy night.
- 2:53-3:03 Both works float about the same V pedal tone (again, G-sharp/A-flat) as they re-transition towards their recaps, reminding us that many works share the basic structural proportions found here.
So, here it is, with my excellent and good-natured colleague Stephanie Emberley handling the Beethoven. I think it's all really lovely and mysterious. Note that Stephanie chose to add an extra mashup element by following the composer's direction to keep the damper pedal down throughout, so that's Beethoven's own pitches hang around as ghosts to mash up with each other. Over at Wikipedia, someone has opined (emphasis mine):
At the opening of the work, Beethoven included a written direction that the sustain pedal should be depressed for the entire duration of the first movement. The Italian reads: "Si deve suonare tutto questo pezzo delicatissimamente e senza sordino" ("This whole piece ought to be played with the utmost delicacy and without damper[s]."). The modern piano has a much longer sustain time than the instruments of Beethoven's day. Therefore, his instruction cannot be followed by pianists playing modern instruments without creating an unpleasantly dissonant sound.Let's just say that not everyone has the same definition of "unpleasantly dissonant."
FINAL NOTE: Pianists, of the world: DO TRY THIS AT HOME! I'd love to hear about follow-up experiments with this combination, and it's a good exercise both in concentration and freedom. Feel free to post about your experiences.
* Technically, Beethoven's music is in cut time (2/2), but the constant triplets produce the same effect as a 12/8 meter - in both performances of this moonlight mashup, you can hear how the 8th notes can easily align between the two worlds.