These two symphonies have thrown up a perspective each on my changing musical sensibilities.

I have an album of CDs containing Sibelius’ first 3 symphonies and a couple of tone poems in the car for commuting listening.

No 1 is in E minor. From the clarinet solo at the start through all the modulations, the strong E minor first movement never wavered from its root in the key. This reminded of how E minor has been capable of grounding my hearing in E such that E major when approached from E minor is less likely to shift up into F major than when it appears on its own. For some reason, E minor is proving to be one of the strongest keys in resisting aural transformation. It is less upwardly mobile, it seems. Is this from an emotional bond (I doubt it as E minor is not one of my ‘heart’ keys), or something to do with a specific combination of frequencies? Or its root in folksy music?

No 2 is in D major. Or was. No longer are those first repeated key chords in D major. No longer are is the final apotheosis in the bright brassy key of D major. I have strongly aware of D major as the timbre and character of this most popular of Sibelius’ symphonies (and the first one I met back in the Bulawayo of my musical awakening in the 1970s). They are both solid E flat major now. But (and here is the thing) no matter. I loved the first and last movements in the new key. The finale was undoubtedly enhanced by being in the grand key of E flat major. I could sing along with those stately themes excitedly, having been vouchsafed something wondrous amongst all the unsettledness of this auditory change and transition.

Knowledgeable readers of these musings may be wondering what happened to the darker D minor repetitious sections of the Finale in Symphony No 2. They murmured and undertook their slow building crescendi in something that was more like E flat minor than D minor, but was neither.