Classical music isn’t for everyone. At least, that is the impression one gets when observing what occurs at rock concerts. And that just might be a good thing too because if it is, the concert I observed at the Sanford-Springvale Historical Museum on Feb. 22 would have been sold out at Merrill Auditorium, if it were performed there, and repeated several times over.

The participants were Ronald Lantz, violin, and Laura Kargul, piano. This pair, each a brilliant and accomplished soloist, has been concertizing as a duo since 2010.

Lantz is best known as the second violinist of the Portland Spring Quartet, a teacher and coach. What has come as a pleasant surprise is that he is also a fabulous soloist. First of all, there is his tone. His sound recalls the tone of such giants of the violin as Misha Elman and David Oistrakh. He has the technique, and more importantly, the musicianship to go with it.

Kargul is an internationally acclaimed virtuoso pianist and head of the piano department at the Gorham campus of the University of Southern Maine. To be sure, there are many other pianists who have the technique to play the difficult repertoire that she has mapped out for herself, including works by Liszt, but she also has the musicianship and intelligence to go with it. Unlike many soloists of her caliber, she is also a superb accompanist.

The program they gave, featuring the music of Robert & Clara Schumann as well as Brahms, was not only of the highest quality, but was also entertaining as well as enlightening. Citing numerous sources as well as correspondence between Clara

Schu-mann and Brahms, it was obvious that the pair were more than friends but decided to remain just friends. There has been much speculation concerning the young Brahms and the younger Clara, but in the end it is well that we have music ”“ incredibly beautiful music ”“ to make such speculation beside the point.

The program began with a Sonata for Piano and Violin; Schumann as well as Brahms referred to their compositions by placing the piano before the violin. Listening to these works, it was obvious that the function of the piano was not that of an accompaniment to the violin, but rather an equal partner in the enterprise.

The Schumann sonata, written but a year before his death in 1856, is a passionate, emotional and in the final movement in particular, a melodramatic work. Lantz’ performance of it was equally passionate. His intonation was flawless, his tone sonorous and full-bodied. But what stood out clearly was his musicianship, which placed these factors in second place. I annotated my notes thus: “They played all the passionate notes passionately!”

As for Kargul, Schumann’s piano music is difficult to play because of its frequent awkwardness. This is doubly strange because Schumann was a pianist. Indeed, with the exception of Berlioz, all the great 19th century composers were pianists. The piano part is black with notes and the pianist has no place to stop and mop his/her brow until the piece is over. Kargul never overpowered the soloist and the two seemed to breathe as one. Their dynamic shadings and ritards were stunning.

What followed the Schumann work were Three Romances by Clara Wieck Schumann. Schumann was one of the great piano virtuosos of the 19th century, as were Fanny Mendelssohn and Amy Beech, a composer in her own right. Raising eight children and a full schedule of giving concerts left her little time for composition. These Romances demonstrate her talent and the last movement showed that she also had the technique to go with her talent.

The Sonata by Brahms that concluded the program was also composed a year before his death in 1897. I could describe it as the light of sunshine on a late afternoon in autumn. It is melodic and even wistful in places, and the terms “amabile, tranquillo and grazioso” are testimony to the composer’s intent. It received a performance that called on every resource the two soloists playing as one. The appreciative audience that crowded the museum gave the pair an earned standing ovation.

— Dr. Gold is a composer/conductor and an arts reviewer for the Journal Tribune.