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      Prom 57 review Daniel Harding's debut makes too much of Mahler

      A rushed performance of Mahler's Second Symphony found neither Harding nor the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra at their best

      "It is an enormous piece and it makes a lot of noise," is how conductor Daniel Harding, not without humour, describes Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony, a work with which he enjoys a long association. As as teenage trumpeter with the National Youth Orchestra, he played in the off-stage band in their Prom performance in 1992. This year's visit with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, of which he is now music director, allowed us to hear his own interpretation of the work. It found neither the conductor nor his orchestra at their best.

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      Final Night review Jonathan Mills's swansong struggles to take flight

      Usher Hall, Edinburgh
      Mills's own Sandakan Threnody, his farewell as festival director, pales next to Janáek's Glagolitic Mass

      It was always an audacious move for Jonathan Mills the Australian composer who stands down as director of the Edinburgh International festival this year to devote half of the last concert of his last festival to a large-scale work of his own.

      Sandakan Threnody (2004) is an oratorio for symphony orchestra, chorus and tenor soloist. The name refers to a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Borneo where many Australians, including Mills's father, were incarcerated during the second world war. Its texts include Psalm 130 as well as excerpts from Anna Akhmatova's Requiem and Randolph Stow's Outrider anthology. One wonders whether the work would have been programmed had it not been composed by the festival director. It is heavy-handed and poorly constructed; it makes very little impact with a great deal of fuss and flowery rhetoric. Some of its failings are down to questionable taste: the overly insistent piercing notes, the banal rhythmic motifs, the reliance on gimmicky percussion to mask a lack of skilful orchestration. Other problems are more fundamental, such as forcing the soloist to struggle against scoring that is far too thick.

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      Delusion of the Fury Heiner Goebbels brings an extraordinary opera to life

      King's theatre, Edinburgh
      With its unique instruments and otherworldly rituals, Harry Partch's opera is strange, beautiful and utterly compelling

      Harry Partch how Heiner Goebbels bought Delusion of the Fury to Edinburgh

      Heiner Goebbels has been a regular visitor to the Edinburgh festival since the 1990s; a succession of his unique music-theatre hybrids, from Black on White in 1997 onwards, have had their British premieres there. But his latest visit was the most extraordinary yet the staging of Delusion of the Fury, Harry Partch's only completed opera, which Goebbels created last year with Ensemble musikFabrik as part of his three-year directorship of the Ruhrtriennale.

      Though he is regularly cited as one of the great mavericks of 20th-century American music, Partch has remained an unknown quantity for audiences on this side of the Atlantic. That's largely owing to the purely practical challenge of performing his work. Partch invented his own musical scale, creating 43 steps within each octave so that he could rid his music of what he regarded as the disaster of equal-tempered tuning. He then created one set of 27 instruments now kept at the Harry Partch Institute in New Jersey with which to play it. Since his death in 1974, international performances of the composer's more ambitious works have seemed more or less impossible.

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