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#479739 - 01/06/08 03:21 PM Question about Allegretto and Moderato....
Mike090280 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 159
Loc: Texas
Are these two tempos the same? The reason I am asking this is because I looked the terms up in a music dictionary and they both said they were between Andante and Allegro. And a second definition for Allegretto stated a, short piece played fast.

I have started learning the Haydn sonata no.31 in E major and the first movement is marked Moderato and the second is Allegretto. Well, I was watching Marc-Andre Hamelin's performance on his new dvd and it seems he takes the second movement about the same tempo. So, are these two tempo markings the same?



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#479740 - 01/06/08 04:58 PM Re: Question about Allegretto and Moderato....
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland

When I was researching Beethoven Op54, it would appear that the term allegretto has not always meant the same thing, and gradually 'got faster' as time went by, and became a lot closer to allegro than to andante. E.g. Charles Rosen asserts that many pianists play the 2nd movt of Op54 far too fast, as they are applying the later interpretation of the term rather than what LvB intended in 1804 for that particular piece. He supports his theory with numerous examples of where a faster tempo blurs certain subtleties and transitions in the work, as well as countering other indications (e.g. the two initial dolce directions) which mean the piece becomes rather garbled at faster speeds.

Also, as well as being a tempo indication, allegretto is also one of mood, usually being one of graceful cheerfulness, though not quite as playful as giocoso would be, for example. So even if a performer were to interpret allegretto and moderato to be approximately the same tempo, there would probably still be a notable difference in the character of the piece.

Michael B.
There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.

#479741 - 01/06/08 11:10 PM Re: Question about Allegretto and Moderato....
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
Beethoven Tempest 3rd movement is allegretto, but many play it as allegro, and some even faster. i like it fast, but not that fast.

#479742 - 01/07/08 05:36 AM Re: Question about Allegretto and Moderato....
Robert Kenessy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/07
Posts: 394
Loc: Enebyberg Sweden
I think allegretto means 'a bit allegro', allegro meaning fast. Moderato means approximately 'moderate', although moderato is a perfect tense (is "moderated" english?).
I would therefore regard allegretto as faster. I strongly agree with the mood annotation about graceful cheerfulness, for example the last movement of Beethoven's sixth symphony.
Robert Kenessy

.. it seems to me that the inherent nature [of the piano tone] becomes really expressive only by means of the present tendency to use the piano as a percussion instrument - Béla Bartók, early 1927.

#479743 - 01/07/08 06:05 AM Re: Question about Allegretto and Moderato....
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 12124
Loc: Canada
Moderato is strictly tempo: moderate speed, slower than allegro, faster than andante (which is the "walking speed"). Allegro is moderately fast, and also indicates a character or mood. Allegretto is *slightly less fast* than allegro. My music dictionary says that it often implies a lighter texture or character. The word allegro means "cheerful". Tempo markings often also imply mood.

** Edit: Correction - I wrote "faster" originally. Thanks for the correction PoSt.

#479744 - 01/07/08 06:20 AM Re: Question about Allegretto and Moderato....
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/05
Posts: 2618
Loc: Geneva, Switzerland
Allegretto is faster than allegro[/b]

Er no, it isn't[1]. Not even once it got faster \:\) . Allegretto of course means "little allegro" being an Italian diminutive[2], and was originally fairly 'not fast,' e.g. minuet movements were often marked allegretto, and as we all know, minuets weren't the quickest dances on the planet.

Allegro is moderately fast[/b]

Allegro is usually translated as 'fast and lively.' OK, not as fast as presto (or indeed prestissimo), but still a good step up from andante, moderato or allegretto. Of course, combination likes allegro moderato require a little more thought and discretion on the part of the performer ;\) .

-Michael B.
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo
[2] c.f. andantino
There are two rules to success in life: Rule #1. Don't tell people everything you know.

#479745 - 01/07/08 06:33 AM Re: Question about Allegretto and Moderato....
keystring Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 12124
Loc: Canada
Thanks for the correction, PoSt. I should not try to read dictionaries this early in the morning.

If Moderato is a bit slower than allegro, and allegretto is a bit slower than moderato, are allegretto and moderato almost the same tempo, but allegretto has the light mood while moderato doesn't necessarily?

#479746 - 01/07/08 08:01 PM Re: Question about Allegretto and Moderato....
wr Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 8197
A tempo marking is always in relation to the piece to which it belongs, and it isn't particularly useful to think of it relative to other tempo indications that the composer didn't use. For example, a pianist might choose exactly the same absolute speed (in terms of beats per minute) for the opening allegro of Beethoven's G major sonata, op. 14, no. 2 and for the allegretto rondo of his op. 22, and have that be a perfectly viable choice. In other words, an allegro may not necessarily be "faster" than an allegretto, in real terms; it all depends on the piece under consideration.


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