A Musical Missionary
Written by Neil McEwan
Dulcie Holland is well-known by music students and music teachers as the author of countless educational works, theory and musicianship method books. Fewer people recognise her as a major Australian composer who wrote over 300 works, including orchestral, choral, instrumental, chamber and vocal compositions.
The Australian pianist Ronan Apcar is a young devotee who has recently recorded a short selection of Holland’s piano works. Apcar’s playing is secure and confident, particularly in the demands of the Sonata for piano (1952). His technical abilities are not in doubt, and these are mostly balanced by his musical approach to the Sonata. For me, a little more time taken over some of the more reflective lyrical moments would insight into the work. Overall however, this is very fine playing.
Conversation for piano (1954), transcribed by Apcar from the manuscript, and the six short pieces which make up A scattering of leaves (1940-1986), are adeptly portrayed; character and mood are illustrated exquisitely. The recording has a clear, vibrant sound, and has been captured well, with an attractive presence.
This recording supports the rediscovery of much of Dulcie Holland’s canon of works; Ronan Apcar has contributed to, and provided, a welcome testament to the lasting legacy that she deserves.