Raissa is a short work comprised of a single melodic thread that runs through the entire work and is passed around the ensemble, similar to the German klangfarbenmelodie (sound-color melody). This melodic thread is veiled for almost the entirety of the work, and is done so through the use of various extended sounds and dynamic contrasts. Structurally, the work consists of fragments of this thread that frequently come to a rest (at fermatas) before continuing again.
The work takes its title and draws guidance from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, specifically the section titled “Hidden Cities 2,” about the city of Raissa. In the book, Marco Polo describes Raissa as the “city of sadness,” where an invisible thread “binds one living being to another for a moment, then unravels, then is stretched again…,” so that hidden from the unhappy city is a happy city unaware of itself.