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Music Appreciation Series: Lento, Largo and Grave – The Timelessness of Slow Music
Speaker: Chow Fan-fu (Conducted in Cantonese)

(Every Weds, 10 lectures in total, except 5 & 26 December 2012)

Venue Date & Time Price
Lecture Hall, Hong Kong Space Museum
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About the Programme

In a social clime where everyone is pushing for speed and efficiency, we are all compulsive Olympic record-breakers, always aiming to improve by split seconds. Although we all know that in music, speed is not synonymous with excellence, artists that have “magic fingers with lightning speed” are still box office draws.  The true music lover would understand that it is often more difficult to play or sing a slow piece than to perform a fast one.

Indeed, a tune that lingers on our mind and would not go away is invariably a work with a slow tempo.  Of course I am only referring to slow music that is played well - a poorly performed piece will be boring.  But what exactly is a piece of slow music?  There is no standard answer to it, as there is no formulaic definition.  At the same time, it is also impossible to answer the question as to why slow music has such a mesmerising charm on the listener.

Let us approach the first question first.  Each piece of music has its basic tempo, and tempo markings that are in general use number over a dozen.  These range from Grave, which indicates 40 beats to the minute, to the slightly faster Largo, Lento, Adagio, and Larghetto, and they all come under the "slow" category.  Yet the "slow" concept may be the result of contrast.  A piece marked Andante, which is played at 66 beats per minute, can be categorised as "slow" when it is part of a work in several movements, and the Andante movement is slower than the others.

Now we come to the second question, and the answer is not easy to come by unless we are actually listening to a piece of music.  This is also the objective of this upcoming series of talks on specific themes.  In these 10 talks, we will examine "slow" music that is performed in various contexts, for example adaptations from songs, the slow movements from sonatas, suites, chamber works, concertos and symphonies etc., and are chosen over a time span of two hundred years.  What they have in common is their timelessness, uniqueness and exceptional value.  They are all so well-known and enjoyable that one cannot have enough of them.  All in all, it is expected that the series will enable the participant to have a comprehensive as well as in-depth understanding of "slow" music in the Western tradition.  For this reason some of the works to be discussed will have featured in my previous talks, but they will be approached from different angles this time.

Further, I will tackle the works in an "anatomical" manner to help the participants gain a better perspective of the characteristics and charm of each piece. This way, they would enjoy the works better and the music would stay on their minds and in their hearts for a long time.  I expect this will be the source of positive energy for those who are leading a life down the fast lane.

At each talk some materials on music appreciation will be introduced to complement the recordings being played, and these may involve certain technical terms and excerpts of music scores.  If the participant has some rudimentary understanding of music theories and is able to make some sense out of a score, it will certainly be a help for him or her to enter this unforgettable musical experience.


31 October 2012

Quiet Contemplation Brings Gratification

 Vivaldi: Four slow movements from Violin Concerto, “The Four Seasons”


7 November 2012

The Evocative Effect of Music Played in Harmony

Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D, 2nd movement (Air on G String)


14 November 2012

The “Heroic” High Range

Handel: Largo (Transcribed from Aria from Serse)


21 November 2012

Elegant, Romantic Yet Wildly Passionate

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K467, 2nd movement, Andante


28 November 2012

The Cantabile Beauty of the Meditative

Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, “Pathetique”, 2nd movement, Adagio Cantabile


12 December 2012

Soul-purging Outpourings

Tchaikovsky: String Quartet No. 1 in D, 2nd movement, Andante Cantabile


19 December 2012

Nostalgia and Yearnings for Home

Dvorak: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, “From the New World”, 2nd movement, Largo


2 January 2013

Heart Notes of a Devoted Lover

Grieg: Solveig’s Song (From Peer Gynt Suite No. 2)


9 January 2013

Emotions in Recollections

Barber: Adagio for Strings, Op. 11 (Arranged from String Quartet in B Minor, 2nd movement)


16 January 2013

A Pledge of Love Through Eternity

Mahler: Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp Minor, 4th movement, Adagietto


The contents of this programme do not represent the views of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

The presenter reserves the right to substitute artists and change the programme should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary.


About the Speaker

Please refer to the Chinese version for details.


Tickets available from 1 October onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on Internet and by Credit Card Telephone Booking.

Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (Limited tickets for full-time students and CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis).

Group Booking Discount
10% off for each purchase of 4-9 standard tickets;
15% off for 10-19 standard tickets;
20% off for 20 or more standard tickets.

Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount schemes for each purchase.  Please inform the box office staff at the time of purchase.

Programme Length
Running time of each talk is about 1 hour 30 minutes.

Programme Enquiries: 2268 7321
Ticketing Enquiries: 2734 9009
Credit Card Telephone Booking: 2111 5999
Internet Booking : www.urbtix.hk

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