The Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival is now in its 42nd year. Under the direction of founder Laurie Kennedy, it has become known for its mixture of classics and more unusual works, all played at the highest level of performance, in a space with virtually perfect acoustics.

Tuesday night’s concert, the second in this year’s series, was no exception. Its star, outshining Beethoven, was Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921). His Piano Concerto No. 5, played last month by Pascal Rogé and the Portland Symphony Orchestra, came as a revelation to many, but there seems nothing that the French composer can’t do, usually better than anyone else.

His youthful Tarantelle, Op. 6, as played by Susan Rotholz on flute, Stephen Manes on piano, and Carmelo Galante on clarinet, was seemingly influenced by Gioachino Rossini, who introduced it to the public, but it is more wild and exuberant than anything the Italian composer (who retired from writing operas to spend the rest of his life in Paris), ever dreamed of.

The combination of flute and clarinet provides a wonderfully subtle complex of textures, but its effect in presto triple-time would be demonic if it were not so humorous. One can hear Bacchantes shrieking – literally – while running madly through the woods.

If the Tarantelle was a tour de force, the Saint-Saëns Romance, Op. 37 for Flute and Piano, with Rotholz and Manes, was melody personified, exploring the beauties of the flute in the same way that “The Swan” in “The Carnival of the Animals,” utilizes the singing voice of the cello.

Both short works require the utmost in virtuosity, which was in ample supply.

After the Saint-Saëns, the Beethoven Trio in B-Flat Major, Op. 11 for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, played by Galante and Manes with Eliot Bailen on cello – a wonderful work itself – seemed almost tame. Its perky folk melody and variations in the third movement brought one back to the Tarantelle, as did the effective dialogue between clarinet and cello.

The program opened and closed with works by relatively unknown British composers: “Four Fancies for Flute and String Trio” by Gordon Jacob (1895-1984) and the Piano Quartet in A Minor, Op. 21 of Herbert Howells (1892-1983).

I enjoyed the Jacob work, an anomaly at its composition in 1978, since it evokes the atmosphere of the court of Henry VIII. The pieces are short, tonal, witty and well-written, with a driving rhythm.

The Piano Quartet, with Manes, Bailen, Gery Itzkoff on violin, and Laurie Kennedy on viola, was more elegiac. It depicts aspects of the day on the view of a hill in Gloucestershire. The first movement, with its personification of the winds, was the most effective, and the final allegro molto energico, a sort of Morris dance, the most entertaining.

Christopher Hyde’s Classical Beat column appears in the Maine Sunday Telegram. He can be reached at [email protected]

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