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Creative Classical 

Tone poems and tango on tap from Philharmonic and Symphony


T ime may not have dealt too kindly with the high-minded and outer-worldly aims of the brilliant Russian composer Alexander Scriabin (1872&–1915), but the fact that he has both been exalted as a genius and condemned as a charlatan proves the uncommon and enduring qualities of his tantalizing output. Rife with sexual connotation, his later compositions, upon which he is most judged, sought to cohere the aural and visual arts. Scriabin claimed to "see" tones as colors, even creating a "keyboard of light" to aid his technique. Scriabin died at age 42, having successfully developed his famed "mystical" chord of fourths, but his cosmic output has long been overshadowed by his uncanny philosophies—Igor Stravinsky, for example, called Scriabin a "musical traveler without a passport."

Naturally, with the advent of the 1960s psychedelic era, the world eventually began the arduous task of catching up to Scriabin's peculiar vision. (Scriabin's piano sonatas represent perhaps the best classical music to listen to while on drugs.) The Poem of Ecstasy has remained his best-known piece, a tone poem marrying 19th-century romanticism to 20th-century technique. The composer once wrote in a letter that the piece "offers a small hint of what I wish my principal work to be." It is performed by the American Philharmonic—Cotati along with works by Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Franck, on Sunday, Feb. 3, at the Wells Fargo Center. 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa. 3pm. $20 reserved; general admission, free. 707.546.3600.

A more literal approach to sexuality is explored through music and dance when the Santa Rosa Symphony kicks off its impressive Latin Waves festival this weekend, promising an exhilarating array of flamenco, bossa nova and mariachi performances over the next three months. South-of-the-border sabor musical is soon to arrive via artists such as Claudia Villela, Robin Brown, Elena Marlowe, Randy Vincent and Mariachi Champaña Nevin (who dazzled in an outdoor appearance last year at Santa Rosa's Juilliard Park), but this weekend it's all about Argentina's tango tradition in a joint performance of the Symphony Chamber Players and the guest dancers Miriam Larici and George Furlong (above).

Exploring the roots of modern tango with compositions from the masters Astor Piazzolla and Anibal Troilo, the evening also promises added excitement: two works by modern Argentinean ass-kicker Osvaldo Golijov. The Santa Rosa Symphony has championed Golijov's music before, having premiered the composer's beautiful and challenging Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind for orchestra and clarinet in 2006. Golijov himself was on hand that night; something tells me that the fiery undulations and precise passion of world-class dancers Larici and Furlong will more than suffice on Saturday, Feb. 2, at Jackson Theater. 4400 Day School Place, Santa Rosa. 5:30pm. $23&–$31. 707.546.8742.

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