Back in June, I received an unexpected message from British pianist Kathryn Stott. I’d long been a great admirer of her musicianship and was familiar with many of her outstanding recordings but, until that point, our paths had barely crossed – we were yet to meet in person or even have a spoken conversation.

Harry Sdraulig Harry Sdraulig. Photo © Mark Xiao

Kathy’s enquiry itself was quite unusual: would I be interested in doing a ‘spin’ on Waltzing Matildafor cello and piano? She made it clear that it was not to be a straightforward arrangement, but rather a more personal and inventive piece incorporating a ‘twist’ on the famous ballad tune. Having long had a soft spot for the melody, I expressed my interest and gave Kathy a brief overview of how I might approach the task. I was very drawn to the idea of working on a more lyric version of the tune, in contrast to the jauntiness which characterises most versions of Waltzing Matildawe hear performed today.

Less than a week later I received an email...