Schröder, a contemporary and compatriot of Herman Krebbers and Theo Olof, studied in Paris and Amsterdam and occupies a senior and well-respected position as a specialist in Baroque and classical repertoire, moving into nineteenth-century repertoire with his Atlantis Trio. He was for some time concertmaster of the Hilversum Radio Chamber Orchestra.
Schröder has devoted much of his career to researching and recording lost and lesser-known works of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 1970s he was a pioneer in bringing existing principles of historically-aware Baroque performance to bear on classical repertoire, often with his Quartetto Esterházy. When the Quartetto disbanded Schröder became music director and concertmaster of London’s Academy of Ancient Music, who recorded a landmark set of Mozart’s complete symphonies under his direction—the first to use period instruments. Although demonstrating some fine playing, Schröder’s recent ventures into Romantic repertoire are, unfortunately, not really historically accurate. His period-instrument Atlantis Trio indulges in too much vibrato and there is very little portamento, a technique documented as early as 1786 in Mestrino’s Parisian concerts and unquestionably part of the style known to Mendelssohn and his contemporaries. Features of nineteenth-century pianism are also lacking.
His earlier repertoire, though, does demonstrate characteristics associated with period performance in recent times: a clean tone largely devoid of vibrato, a propensity for short staccato attacks and a generally precise, well-disciplined approach, softened in Schröder’s case by the gentler colours of gut strings. His Bach A minor Solo Sonata (c.1984) is a good example—spacious, considered and architectural, and enlivened with plausible Baroque ornamentation. Rather more worthy is some of the minor repertoire, such as Johan Roman’s Assaggi. Whilst Schröder is to be congratulated for reviving such works, they do generally lack Bach’s invention and power. The C minor Assaggio is perhaps the best, benefitting from echoes of Bach’s style: the Grave has a satisfying sense of progression whilst the second movement is memorable and lively. Schröder imbues his 1987 performance with clarity, rhetorical logic and well-articulated power, although tone can be rather acidic at times.
A 1989 set of Mozart’s violin sonatas (with replica fortepiano) is of similar merit to the solo Bach, although the longer shapes of Mozart’s writing could perhaps be better placed. Repeated notes in the piano are somewhat mechanical and a more interesting and natural rhetoric would be created by employing some classical tempo rubato.
Small criticisms aside, Schröder’s endeavours in the field of historically-informed performance certainly earn him an honourable place among twentieth-century interpreters.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — David Milsom (A–Z of String Players, Naxos 8.558081-84)