In my previous post, I reported how St Valentine enabled my tonal sensibility to ‘fix’ A flat major during a live performance of the 2nd movement of Chopin’s 2nd Piano Concerto. I subsequently listened to two recordings, one on CD and the other streamed, and both ‘slipped’ up into A major during the exposition. I noted with the latter, that the A flat frequency in the recording was slightly sharp compared with our piano’s A flat.

This evening I took those two performances and listened to them again. This time they did not slip up but retained the roundness of the flat key; both recordings remain slightly ‘sharp’ against the piano benchmark. But I have divined the cause of the difference from my prior listening to these two recordings: this time I was really listening. Previously during the CD performance I was driving and my concentration wandered – when I returned to conscious listening, the key had ‘shifted’. For the streaming performance, I was at home and there were things that took my concentration away in similar fashion. So it may not have been St Valentine’s influence, merely focus that ‘held’ the music in A flat major.

Interestingly, the A flat minor agitated central section with its tremolo strings shifted at every listening, even in the concert hall romantic music hothouse. I think A flat minor, a rare key in classical music and thus not so ‘hard-wired’ in my neurology, is more prone to shift up than its major key equivalent, especially as the key it slips into,  A minor, is very hard wired and characteristic, as reflected in my Keynotes programme on the key. I think that, after testing St Valentine, I’d better research my limited repetoire of A flat minor pieces to see whether this is a consistent tonal trait. What would happen, for example, if the recording were not slightly sharp to concert pitch?