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Airs for the Four Seasons (James Oswald, 1749)

The "Airs for the Four Seasons" by James Oswald consist of 48 suites, each named after a flower. Apparently Oswald primarily had a violin as the melody instrument in mind, as can be concluded from its ambitus and double stops in some of the pieces. Nevertheless many suites work also very well on the alto recorder, thus enriching its repertoire with seldomly heard music in the "galant" style.

To arrange the pieces for alto recorder, I had to transpose some suites and also needed to rewrite short passages. I have done so for the following ten suites:

The Junquill, The Ranunculus, The Honeysuckle, The Hepathica, The Golden Rod, The Hearts-Ease, The Amaranthus, The Heliotrope, The Stock Gilli Flower, The Snow Drop

The edition contains besides a score (recorder and figured bass) also a separate solo part for the recorder. In this part I have also given some suggestion for embellishments and diminutions, because I have observed that many instrumentalists have problems with adding custom embellishments. The basso continuo can be played with good effect on a harpsichord or a lute (archlute, theorbo).

My source have been photocopies from the original print from 1749 that have been provided by the Glasgow University Library under the signature Sp Coll Q.b.72.


The complete selection of ten suites is only available as a printed edition. Here is the beginning of a suite to convey an impression of style and difficulty of the music:

The Amaranthus (one A4 page, 32kB)