Matilda Variations is a one-of-a-kind solo piano work in tribute to Australia, based on its beloved song and unofficial anthem, 'Waltzing Matilda.' Commissioned by American pianist Laura Leon, Steven Rosenhaus' work cleverly weaves it way through 'Waltzing Matilda' with an inventive series of classically conceived variations. Staying true to the earnest and timeless sentiment of the song, it is filled with delightfully subtle references to many great works of the piano repertoire are woven into the variations from--from a roster of composers that include Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin. Along the way, Matilda Variations takes an unexpected turn--with a Tango!
Matilda Variations came about In December 2000, when Laura was invited to give a concert at the New York Australian Consulate-General in March 2001. Wishing to honor the occasion and Australia from the piano, she commissioned American composer Steven Rosenhaus to compose a solo work based on Waltzing Matilda. WIthin Steven's broad compositional output, he had composed several works based on folk songs, dances, and cherished music of other countries for special occasions. He said yes on the spot and Matilda Variations was on its way.
Since its premiere and original CD release at that concert, Laura has performed Matilda Variations for audiences, near and far. And though inspired by Australia, the spirit of the piece is capturing listeners of every country. Originally recorded for the 2001 concert, Matilda Variations was rerecorded in 2010. This is its 2011 release. This recording joins the original one in the Australia National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra, which preserves and provides access to Australia's historic and contemporary moving image and recorded sound culture.
Pianist Laura Leon continues to broaden the spectrum of American music and where it can be experienced. She has brought composers and their works to audiences, beyond traditional concert venues--to new settings and special events. She has been heralded for the special touch she brings to both her solo and collaborative performances at the piano, which include unique collaborations and live performances of multimedia works, including Found in Nature and the Emmy-award winning documentary, The Hidden LIfe.
Most recently, Laura presented Peter Schickele's 75th birthday concert at Steinway Hall in New York, with a concert featuring solo and chamber works by the composer and Professor Schickele's ficticious P.D.Q. Bach with a roster of amazing musicians and Robert Sherman as introductory host. Her performances also include Heifer International's Bee Day Celebration, premiering Mark Isham's Secret Life of Bees-Suite for Piano, and the inclusion of Sting and Billy Joel
on classical CDs.
Laura has received acclaim for her performances and recordings of a wide roster of American composers, including Peter Schickele, William Bolcom, Hugo Weisgall, Steven Rosenhaus, Eric Ewazen, and Morton Gould, all of which can be heard on her albums on the Musical Tapestries Inc. label.