Saint-Saëns composed his Tarentelle
in A minor Op 6, for flute and clarinet accompanied by orchestra or piano, in 1857 for his colleagues flautist Louis Dorus and clarinettist Adolphe Leroy, with whom he performed the work for the first time on 28 April 1857 at Salle Pleyel. So well received was the piece that Rossini requested that Saint-Saëns play the work with the two original soloists at one of the regular musical evenings at his palatial home in Paris. It was repeated many times by these two gentlemen in the following years, sometimes accompanied by the piano and often by orchestra. By 1873 the work was sufficiently well known that it was played in New York by the Theodore Thomas orchestra; there were further performances in Monaco, Russia and Cuba. The energetic, playful exchanges between flute and clarinet and the capricious swirling motion are reminiscent of Mendelssohn, this perpetual motion being relieved by the mellifluous middle section in dialogue and unison.
from notes by Sabina Teller Ratner © 2005