Jean, my parents and I sat down after supper last night to enjoy a DVD of a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony, the Pathetique, by the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. The Symphony is in the lugubrious clear B minor and makes determined use of its wretched sorrowfulness and distress. About three quarters of the way through the beautiful and tense (by turns) first movement, I congratulated myself that everything was sounding “in key”. Then, after the huge intense trombone-led climax, the arching, aching second subject returned in what should have been B major. Chagrin!- C major! I said to myself, “I shall overcome this!”. I mentally conjured up the shape of B major – sharps everywhere. I unpegged each note on a line and placed it in the space below it and dragged each note in a space to the line below. I willed music to change, rather like a toddler holding his breath. To no avail. The strings fatalistically plucked their plodding C major scales (that should have been in B major) immune to my distress as the movement declined and faded away; the trombones played C, G and E where they should have played B, F sharp and D sharp. My willpower proved ineffectual against my re-wiring.

Tchaikovsky’s morose, hope-deprived finale must be more strongly wired because B minor held sway from start to miserable end. So satisfying.