I did something and it disappeared, but wouldn’t let me re-post because it duplicated an existing post. I’ve tried reloading the page, deleting cookies, etc, but the problem persists. I’ll try again now as maybe your subsequent post will clear some sort of caching that the server is using. Here goes:
For some reason, it hadn’t occured to me that the descant book was supposed to be easier!
It’s all a bit silly imho. Lots of recorder players complain that it’s “unfair” that schools assume learners will move onwards and upwards from recorder to a “proper” instrument if they show promise, but then effectively replicate this by assuming everyone will start on soprano and move “up” to alto. The Schott Anthology series, as I said above, annoyingly does this. In the UK, ABRSM is particularly bad in this respect, as you can only take soprano exams up to grade 5 and must switch to alto if you wish to go up to grade 8. Yet, as you and Linden say, it’s actually harder to make the soprano sound good.
With these particular books, it’s actually a bit difficult to tell to what extent the difficulty level of the pieces changes between books. The Schott website says of the soprano book that it is part of the ABRSM syllabus (grade 2,3) whereas the alto book is part of the ABRSM Summer 2006 syllabus (grades 1-3) and the Trinity syllabus 2007 (grade 6), which seems to indicate that the easiest and most difficult pieces were both in the alto book. Perhaps they both have a range of pieces and the difference is the the pieces were originally for either soprano or alto, rather than being transcriptions.