Many of Kaija Saariaho’s orchestral pieces unfold with minute and seemingly constant shifts of subtle sounds and colorings. Dense chords murmur restlessly, as wavering melodic lines escape from sustained, quivering sonorities and spin off, sometimes disappearing into an ether. The instrumental writing is continually varied and wondrously strange.
Though it might seem counterintuitive, Ms. Saariaho’s most ruminative and mystical orchestral works are often best perceived in large, open spaces, where myriad sounds can be dispersed to create an enveloping experience for listeners. So, when Pierre Audi, the new artistic director of the Park Avenue Armory, suggested that the New York Philharmonic play a Saariaho program there, the composer embraced it.