Financial Times: Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, Zellerbach Hall

By Allan Ulrich
Published January 24, 2011

Nagano’s successor, Joana Carneiro, came aboard two seasons ago. She seems imbued with similar artistic ideals. Last week’s concert testified to the 34-year-old Portuguese-born maestra’s passion for the present. The second world premiere of the season, Du Yun’s riveting Mantichora, a 17-minute essay for large string orchestra, heralded a significant voice. The title alludes to the half-lion, half-human of myth and one senses the warring elements in the score, which the Shanghai-born composer insists is programmatic. Brooding figures at the threshold of hearing yield to luxuriant harmonies and keening portamentos, spiced with dramatic pizzicato outbursts. The writing bespeaks great confidence, while the trajectory does, indeed, suggest a monster unleashed and subdued.

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