On Kaija Saariaho’s Light and Matter
Kivie Cahn-Lipman’s cello was dark, untethered, flying through the instrument’s lower register, and chills electrified my spine. His wired energy perfectly captured my feelings about New York, and the cold fire that pulses through me whenever I am in the city alone. The unrelenting, jangling grind of news scrolling across giant video screens, the clatter of the subway, jackhammers, and the moments of clear beauty in between. There is an urgency and tension in this piece that I have not often seen in Saariaho’s work.
I looked at the program notes, and I registered with little surprise that the piece was written in Manhattan. That city where I was born marks all that it touches, with the frenetic flicker of white street lamps and red sirens. To some, this feeling is a necessary drug, even soothing. To me, it is a sensation I enjoy occasionally, when I seek it out, but I do not think I could live on it.