British composer and cellist Peter Gregson is a prolific artist whose work spans music for film, TV series, dance as well as five studio albums. Although he has composed music for string ensembles and electronics, the cello has always been the centrepiece of his oeuvre, defining his sound throughout. Now, Gregson decides to shift perspectives, inviting Kindt to revisit some of his early pieces and rework them on solo piano for a new EP.
While Gregson’s last album, the highly-acclaimed release ‘Patina’, explored the function of melodies in songs, 'Piano Book’ shines a light on the role of chords. “On the cello, to do chords, we need to do some gymnastics which always sounds quite ‘busy’ or ‘intense’, and that’s glorious. The piano can do it so simply, so effortlessly… that’s what I wanted to bring to this music,” says Gregson. This ease with which the piano allows for chordal arrangements opened new directions for Gregson’s pieces to be reworked with an even greater sense of intimacy. The 2014 piece, ‘Lights in the Sky’, for instance, was originally recorded as a mass of multi-tracked cellos overlaid onto one another, but could be played singularly by Kindt on the piano. “The aesthetic difference may sound subtle, but it’s the difference between eight people – or, in the pianist’s case, several fingers – playing once, or one person playing eight times,” notes Gregson.
With certain elements simplified on the piano, other previously concealed attributes of Gregson’s compositions come to light. In Kindt’s rework of the piece ‘3.2 Allemande’ from the 2018 album ‘Bach Recomposed’, there’s a newfound clarity to the piece’s voice which allows us to fully appreciate the dexterous and skilful interplay between chords. Likewise, while the 2018 piece ‘Adam Leaves’ was originally composed for string ensemble and soaring solo violin, its piano rework places even more emphasis on the ebb and flow of the melody and gives it a modest heart-warming appeal. The closing piece of the EP, Kindt’s rework of ‘Warmth’ impacts the listener in a completely different way – it feels less languid than the original, and in this more concise version it appears as if the cinematics and drama of the original piece are brought to the fore. “There’s a freshness to reapproaching music on a new instrument, re-considering how to form the musical sentences with a different voice in mind,” says Gregson.