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Schroeder Premieres

Eugen d'Albert                    

Concerto in C Major, Op. 20 (1899) 

The US premiere of the d'Albert cello concerto took place simultaneously in New York (with the work's dedicatee, Hugo Becker, as soloist) and Boston (with Alwin Schroeder as soloist). Becker had appeared earlier in the 1900-1 season as soloist with the Boston Symphony in a different concerto, giving rise to an indirect comparison of the two cellists in a review of Schroeder's d'Albert performance: “D’Albert’s ’cello concerto was performed for the first time at Hambourg in September 1899, by Hugo Becker, under the direction of the composer. Fortunately for us Mr. Becker did not choose it for his show-piece. He is no doubt a sound player, he is certainly a smug one; and the Haydn concerto was just the music for his smooth and unemotional performance. D’Albert’s concerto is much more than a virtuoso piece. There is symphonic treatment throughout. What would the mere virtuoso say to a concerto that begins with an oboe solo while the solo-cello is playing arpeggios? There are themes of character and beauty and the concerto is developed from them in one continuous line, although the customary division into three movements may be recognized. The development is skillfully handled; and the orchestration is full of charming detail. While the solo-instrument is not treated in the old-fashioned manner, the task of the player is nevertheless a thankful one, for it appeals to his musical intelligence and artistic education as well as to his technical skill. Mr. Schroeder was the man for the concerto. He played it both sympathetically and with understanding, and his widely acknowledged technic was vitalized by high poetic feeling.”  (Philip Hale in Boston Journal, March 10, 1901 p. 2) Schroeder appears to have given no further performances of this concerto.

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