BEFORE outlining the enthralling narrative that underpinned the final concert on Friday in the series Women In The Shadows, a fine collaboration between Radio 3 and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I must say something about mezzo Karen Cargill and her achingly sensitive accompanist pianist Simon Lepper.

There is a magic when these two perform together: whatever it is, they have it in abundance. It makes them indivisible and it permeated every song. Cargill's voice was awesome in clarity and intensity as she poured her intoxicating mix of vocal richness and brainpower into gorgeous music ranging from Mahler's Wayfarer Songs to Wagner's voluptuous Wesendonck Lieder.

The Woman In The Shadows was Alma Mahler, wife of Gustav and lover of who knows how many. And the series title wasn't entirely appropriate in this last concert: no woman in musical history (Clara Schumann apart) has been less in the shadows than Alma. She also composed, and five of her songs, lovely Romantic lieder, were performed; as were two songs by Zemlinsky (another of Alma's lovers). A steamy business, this classical music lark.

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