John Baston

Six Concertos in six parts for violins and flutes

(Rev. by Antonio Frigé, Intr. Daniele Bragetti) DVPF 20277 108 Pages Baroque

€85,90

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(fl 1708–39). English composer, recorder player and cellist. From 1708 to 1714 he and his brother Thomas (fl 1708–27), a violinist and probably also a recorder player, played in concerts at Stationers’ Hall and Coachmakers’ Hall, London, and at Greenwich. When the Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre opened in 1714, they probably became members of its orchestra; they performed there regularly in the interval ‘entertainments’, often in Baston’s own recorder concertos, which have prominent solo violin parts. By 1722 he had moved to the rival Drury Lane Theatre, where he played in the interval music (and occasionally within the plays) until 1733, always in a concerto or solo for the ‘little flute’ (recorder); the concertos are twice named in advertisements as being by Dieupart and Robert Woodcock. In 1727 he (cello) and his brother (violin) were among the orchestra that played in the Lord Mayor’s Day Royal Entertainments. Baston was one of the original subscribers to the Society of Musicians in 1739.

His Six Concertos in Six Parts for Violins and Flutes, viz. a Fifth, Sixth and Consort Flute (London, 1729) are all showpieces for the soloist, who in nos.1 and 3 has a part for the normal treble recorder, in nos.2, 4 and 5 for the sixth flute (descant recorder in d”), and in no.6 for a fifth flute (descant recorder). Years of theatre experience showed Baston how to write lively, robust opening themes by balancing short phrases; they are, however, melodically undistinguished. The fast movements mostly provide busy chord-pattern work for the solo line, the simple harmonic style being unrelieved by any contrapuntal interest. Nos.3 and 6 (fast–slow) and 4 (slow–fast) have only two movements each; the others follow the Venetian three-movement model.

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