By Georgia Rowe
Published January 21, 2011
The program opened with “Mantichora,” a Berkeley Symphony commission receiving its first performance. Named for the half-lion, half-human beast of myth, the 12-minute, single movement work for string orchestra introduced Du Yun as an artist of enormous promise; the 33-year-old, Shanghai-born composer produces rising waves of sound — brooding low strings, anguished outbursts from the violins, wistful, dreamlike episodes — while suggesting an underlying reservoir of fiercely coiled energy. This was nature at its most elemental; conducted by Carneiro with focused intensity, it made you want to cage Messiaen’s birds for their own protection.