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In Händel Harp Concerto in B flat major (Op.4, No.6|HWV294):

There three movements: 1.Movement: Andante allegro 2.Movement: Larghetto 3.Movement: Allegro moderato

I want to know which tempo marking is faster "Andante allegro" or "Allegro moderato", and what is roughly the m.m. of these tempo markings?

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You can't give a MM of a tempo marking; it depends on how long the notes are. –  11684 May 5 '13 at 10:29
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Metronomes, and measuring a tempo exactly in beats per minute, were not invented and put into practice until the mid-1800s. Handel lived before that time, and in his era there was no accepted way of precisely notating a tempo.

Moreover, tempos in these pieces are really only guidelines. The composer himself would vary the tempo in different performances, and he would expect other musicians performing his works to choose whatever tempo worked best at a particular moment given their particular circumstances. Tempo is one of the parameters of music that is available for musicians to interpret differently.

That being said, "Allegro moderato" would be faster than "Andante allegro". So select whatever basic beats-per-minute tempo works best for you for this composition. Then speed that up in the "Allegro moderato" section, and slow it down a bit in the "Andante allegro" section. It is all relative.

Conventionally, "Andante" is considered around 76 to 108 beats per minute. "Allegro" is considered to be around 120 to 168 beats per minute.

Apart from the way the terms are used in musical practice, "Andante" is Italian for "ordinary". "Allegro" is Italian for "cheerful" or "merry". "Moderato" is Italian for "moderate".

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I made the correction you suggested. –  Wheat Williams Apr 27 '13 at 20:35
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You might as well ask "How fast does a person walk?" You will get as many different answers as there are people.

In the case above, unless there is an actual MM value set, these can be equal or one can be faster or slower than the other.

Allegro simply means a "lively" tempo.

Andante means a "walking" tempo.

Moderato means a "moderate" tempo, or when used as a modifier, it means to perform the other tempo direction to a "moderate" degree. If the other indication is allegro, it would be moderately lively.

These tempi cannot be mapped precisely to metronome markings. One person's andante allegro may be slower or faster than another person's allegro moderato, and so on.

The real question you should be asking yourself is this: "What tempo makes the music happen for me?" If you're playing in an orchestra, the conductor has already done this work for you, and you play it at that tempo. If you're in a leaderless ensemble, you agree on a tempo. If you are performing solo, or with an accompanist, you really need to do the work to find out what tempo makes the music come out.

Maybe this sounds simplistic, or perhaps arcane or even capricious, but it's a difficult question and ultimately one that only you can answer.

One more thing: In a concerto, the final movement is typically faster (and shorter) than the opening movement.

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Just to add to Wheat's answer, in this case, Handel is using tempo indications as modifiers:

"Andante allegro" essentially means a quicker Andante tempo - like a brisk walk.

On the other hand, "Allegro moderato" means for more restrained Allegro tempo. Beethoven would say "Allegro ma non troppo" - "Allegro, but not too much."

In this way, by assigning two tempo indications simultaneously (Debussy was fond of "moderately" or "very moderately,) Handel uses the second tempo indication to modify the first.

Allegro moderato would in fact be a bit quicker than the other indication as others have correctly pointed out. I provide this answer to help clarify their point, which was originally unsupported.

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