Peter Gregson’s top 10 moments in records

Peter Gregson at  Real World Studios. Photography: York Tillyer

Peter Gregson’s album ‘Terminal’ was recorded especially for Society of Sound at Real World Studios. Peter is an award winning cellist, composer and pioneer of contemporary music. His work has been performed widely in the UK and the US, at venues ranging from The Royal Albert Hall, London to The Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh; from the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles to Trinity Church, Boston.

We asked him to tell us his Top 10 favourite pieces of music and, in a characteristically detailed response, here they are:

1. Glen Gould, The Well Tempered Klavier, JS Bach (1963):

Crank it up loud and listen through the delicious tape hiss: you can hear Glen Gould singing as he plays, making this arguably the best value recording of all time – two performances for the price of one! Seriously though, it’s essential listening from one of the all time great artists. My personal favorites are Fugue 1 in C major and Prelude 7 in Eb major.

2. Max Richter, On the Nature of Daylight (2004):

So simple, harmonically, but this piece always gets me. When the violin kicks into its solo around 1:50 and again higher around 3:20, make sure you’re really focussing onto the middle parts that you were hearing at the beginning. It’s like a form of meditation – try to hear beyond out the two conversational solo lines, and pretty soon you’ll find yourself slumped in a chair drooling with relaxation. Also, check out 24 Postcards, his latest album.24 tracks of brilliance.

3. Coldplay feat. Jay-Z Lost+ (2008):

I’m a massive fan of Coldplay; their artwork, their stageshows, their albums, the lot… When Viva la Vida (or Death and All his Friends) came out in 2008, I was excited to hear a collaboration between Brian Eno and Coldplay – two of my favorites! The production on the album (and subsequent Prospekts March EP, from which this single is taken) is terrific, I first heard this song when watching the Grammy’s a few years ago. The contrast between Chris Martin’s now familiar voice, the lush ambient backing and Jay-Z’s rapping on top is really special.

For the full effect, listen to the whole song, but if you’re just curious, make sure you go from 1:40 through to chorus until you hear it… I think it’s the combination of timing and the actual lyric he’s saying. It’s over by 3:10, so blink and you’ll miss it, but it’s really something to listen out for. While you’re on that album, get over to Death and all his friends. 6 minutes well spent, and the drums at 2:19 are awesome.

4. Brian Eno + Bang on a Can Music for Airports (2008):

Played live here by the incredible ‘Bang on a Can All Stars’, this is a great recording. It takes a seminal piece of ambient electronica and makes it a stunning live performance piece – in fact “1/2″ (the second movement) is my second most listened to track on iTunes!

5. The Beatles Let it Be (1970):

My favorite pop song of all time. For me, it has everything. In the original, there is a ‘wrong’ chord 3mins in or so, which I’m curiously fond of. In the remastered versions, it’s been removed in favor of a cleaned up chord, but I’d like to rally for the original fluff to be put back in. I could, in fact, probably outline ten key details in this song that make me love it so much, but I won’t. Just listen to it and enjoy.

6. Christian Tetzlaff / Lars Voigt Brahms Sonata in G (2004):

I saw this powerhouse duo perform at the Edinburgh Festival when I was younger. It was perhaps the most incredible range of sounds I’ve ever heard from any instrument, ever. Really wonderful stuff.

7. The Beatles The Love Album (2007):

The transition between Hey Jude and Sgt.Pepper (reprise) is just wonderful. “One, two, three, four…”! I never get tired of it!

8. Peter Gabriel Down To Earth [Wall-E OST] (2008):

Great film, great song. Other than the incredible vocal and haunting production, check out the gated guitar behind the vocal in the chorus. I can’t explain it, it’s just so beautifully detailed and, for me, essential to the whole song.

9. Edgar Meyer, Mark O’Connor, Yo-Yo Ma 1B (2008):

I love all of Edgar Meyer’s music, but this was the first piece of his I ever heard, and it’s still a firm favorite. It’s just a really great string sound, simple as that – brought to you by the engineering team that produced all the cello recordings I listened to when I was growing up – Yo-Yo Ma, produced by Steven Epstein for Sony. The whole 2:20-30 thing gets me every time.

10. Susumu Yokota Skintone Collection (2007):

I didn’t know about Susumu Yokota’s work until I was recording my Society of Sound album. Late one night, our engineer Greg Freeman was going on about how much he liked his stuff, and thought I should get into it, so I investigated. He’s produced loads of albums, but I’m currently on Skintone Collection which, I think, is very beautiful.

You can keep up with Peter’s music taste on his blog too

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