Dedicated to Len Vorster, Stephen Roth, and Wendy Brooks.
Michael Easton composed Concerto on Australian Themes in answer to a commission from the Chamber Orchestra of Geelong which, with the pianist Len Vorster, gave the first performance on 14th June, 1996. Having conceived the happy idea of using well-known Australian songs as a thematic basis for a virtuoso piano concerto, Easton projects his chosen melodies through as series of continuous variations, while at the same time employing traditional methods of contrast and repetition. At least three of the tunes will be known outside Australia: Botany Bay (Farewell to old England for ever), which provides the thematic content for the first movement; and Click go the Shear, and Waltzing Matilda, which provide material for a rollicking Finale. Throughout the work sly references are made to the fulsome mannerisms of the great romantic concertos of the nineteenth century. Not least of its many inspired moments occurs at the end of the third movement when a phrase from Click go the Shears suddenly metamorphoses into the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, a neat demonstration of the fact that comedy and tragedy are two sides of the same coin.
Written in London, Winchester and Madrid in Jauuary 1996