BARITONE Dietrich Henschel is a towering figure, physically, intellectually, musically and theatrically.

His prowess as an interpreter, by which I mean precisely his ability to get below the surface of a song and right into its soul, is extraordinary. And his ability to characterise a song through sheer acting as much as singing resulted yesterday, at his Queen's Hall concert with pianist Steven Osborne, in a recital of consummate intelligence, fuelled by a voice where beauty of sound is almost a secondary consideration to penetrating and revealing the nuances and implications of a text.

Equally, the well-planned and structured recital by these two was an exemplar in the championship of less-frequently performed material. The concert opened and closed with sets of songs by Erich Korngold, whose youthful opus 9 songs, warmly sung and murmuringly accompanied by some of Osborne's most sensitive pianism, revaled just how mature was the composer's young music.

At the far end of the programme lay Korngold's Hollywood accent in his opus 39 songs, gorgeously sung by Henschel and evoking real nostalgia with a glow. And then there was a harrowing performance of Frank Martin's Six Monologues from Everyman, a bleak and shattering journey of the soul, performed with gripping, magnetic drama by Henschel in a tour de force of acting and singing, with powerful pianism from Osborne who exploded into the blinding, scrunching dissonances of the music. In and around this amazing stuff, the deeply impressive Henschel/Osborne partnership gave memorable accounts of late songs by Hugo Wolf and a set of Mahler's Wunderhorn Songs. A very strong recital.