Both these artists have truly international reputations – what a privilege to have them in Ilkley. Their consummate technical skill is a given. The subtle pianism is a joy and Mark Padmore’s tenor voice has superb control and flexibility and sustained its quality throughout the taxing seventy-minute song cycle. The performance was heard with rapt attention, the audience completely held by the spell these two had cast. Die Schöne Müllerin tells a tale and it was the vivid telling of the tale that so gripped the audience.
Schubert’s piano parts unerringly paint pictures or evoke moods and both elements were vividly portrayed, the pounding mill-wheel, the gently flowing brook, the aggressive hunter, and the miller’s growing obsession with the colour green. Mark Padmore’s use of tone colour is remarkably daring and he is able to express the whole range of the miller’s feelings, the sturdy countryman, the wonder of meeting the mill-girl, his exultation and then his desperation when a rival appears, his sadness and attempted bravado and finally his rejection of life. Both artists gave variety to the strophic songs, finding something new in each verse. Other songs are like mini-operas and their dramatic mood changes were fully realized. The rapport between the players was so close that after the hypnotic ending it almost felt wrong to clap; but heartfelt applause eventually broke out, surely ‘An die Musik’, and for these two wonderful performers.