A small audience had the honour of two big names on stage and enthusiasts of Schubert would agree that there were no two bigger names to have performed the evening's programme than Paul Lewis and Mark Padmore. They gave an intimate chamber performance of songs by Beethoven and Schubert, received with calls of “Bravo!” and whistles.

Schubert and Beethoven both cross over the borders between the Classical to the Romantic eras creating an interesting mix of strict and clever harmony with a playful use of word-painting. Each of the songs in Schubert’s Schwanengesang song cycle has a distinct mood where music plays a fundamental part in bringing each and every word alive. Mark Padmore had a gripping stage presence, matching these different moods by different body language. For the more relaxed and playful melodies, as in the song Abschied, he leant back with a hand on the piano and kept his head high. Der Atlas stood out as a voluminous and short yet powerful recital where Padmore showed control and recreated the atmosphere of pain and longing that the words portray in the song. This piece also had a challenging and fast piano part at which Paul Lewis set the scene with relentless driving rhythm.

Watching Lewis and Padmore work together on stage was captivating; they created a truly unique rendition of both Schubert and Beethoven’s works. While the pianist is technically an accompanist to a tenor, the way these lieder are composed gives the piano far more significance than the word "accompaniment" implies. It is the interplay between vocalist and pianist and the contrast between them that gives these pieces their life and allows the story to be told. Paul Lewis would look up at Padmore constantly and, despite not being at the front of the stage, would wear facial expressions to match each and every song. One was naturally drawn to Padmore as he acted out fiery passion, sadness and joy with absolute conviction.

What was so fantastic about the Schwanengesang is that every piece created a different sound world where each set of words was treated completely separately. Padmore treated the pool of emotions in Schwanengasang carefully so as not to let the mood of one song contravene the mood of the next. This meant a pause of preparation between songs of which the only sadness was applause etiquette. There were definitely members of the audience who tried after the first few but we were soon put back to our usual silence and whispers (as to how much we liked the last one) to wait until the end.

Beethoven wrote fewer lieder than Schubert and this was reflected in the evening’s programme. The first half of the concert consisted entirely of Beethoven’s works opening with Mailied which was light hearted and simple in nature as each verse used the same melody. It closed on a note more similar to the Schubert with An Die Ferne Geliebte, a pastoral and elegant song cycle. This reflected what one would expect from Beethoven but was incomparable to the bold psychological style of Schubert. The Beethoven lieder weren’t as memorable in the same light as the Schwanengesang, which ran through from interval to end. It was only a shame that there weren’t more people in the audience to experience such a great concert.