Dulcie Holland: Fantasy Trio
Composed in 1938 for a violin, cello and piano trio, Australian composer Dulcie Holland’s (1913-2000) Fantasy Trio is a real treat for the ears. Regarded as one of most significant composers of her time, Holland’s music spans from chamber to solo repertoire. Holland’s work as a teacher and music examiner also feeds into her legacy. Although an early work for Holland, Fantasy Trio shows much maturity in her use of themes and textures.
Set into just one long movement, Fantasy Trio is full of exciting twists and turns where the composer takes the different themes on different courses. Holland’s use of the ensemble is well-handled, and her intricate voicing brings out the best in all three of the instruments. The style overall is late-Romantic, which is seen through the rich harmonic language and dramatic textures which grow into huge sound waves.
Holland’s treatment of solo lines is also of interest as all three of the instruments get to shine at some point in the trio. The maturity in Holland’s writing in this respect is astounding and was a great indicator of music to come from her. Holland’s complex harmonic language goes hand in hand with the rich textures, with many of these harmonic structures also being used by impressionist composers such as Maurice Ravel and Gabriel Fauré.
The bold unison sections break the mould of the structure as the powerful coming together of instruments makes quite a statement. As the intensity becomes more noticeable near the end of the trio, the dynamics also creep up. The big climax of the piece is heard in this final section. A glistening piano part cascades in its upper range as the strings play a final variation of the theme. Fantasy Trio concludes as the violin hits its highest note of the piece as the piano delicately plays the final chords. This poignant and dignified conclusion adds to the appeal of the work.
Ⓒ Alex Burns