Rosewood 1907 Model B Steinway

Photo by Matt Fried

Great pianist, storied piano team for Fairfield County Chorale event
CT Post | Phyllis A.S. Boros

There are so many special features planned for the Fairfield County Chorale’s upcoming Norwalk concert that it seems to rival the most elaborate of feasts with several sumptuous courses.

The concert, Saturday, May 14, at the Norwalk Concert Hall, is bursting with highlights, said Maestro David Rosenmeyer, during a recent telephone chat.

Among the high points:

St. Petersburg native Ilya Yakushev, celebrated as one of today’s best young pianists, will perform Beethoven’s virtuosic Choral Fantasy Op. 90 (1808) with orchestra and 100-member chorale.

A mini-piano festival, featuring three additional pianists: Rosenmeyer, teacher Christina Stanescu and FCC Associate Conductor Michael Sheetz.

They are poised to “show off” the group’s newest treasure: a Rosewood 1907 Model B Steinway, known by performers as “the perfect piano.” Rosenmeyer said the instrument was acquired through the generosity of former owners, the Balzano family, and by FCC member Lucinda Knuth. It “has an extraordinary sound and we are thrilled to have it as our rehearsal and performance piano.”

Four up-and-coming soloists from the opera world: soprano Anna Dugan, mezzo-soprano Malena Dayen, tenor Alok Kumar and bass Adam Lau.

A program that includes one of Dvorak’s monumental works: “Stabat Mater,” (Grieving Mother), that depicts Mary’s agony as she watches her son Jesus’ crucifixion, but ultimately experiences the “triumph of faith … over despair.” A “wonderful mix of soloists with the chorus, duets and quartets” makes this piece a favorite with singers and audiences alike, the FCC notes.

Mozart’s aria “Ch’Io mi scordi di te… Non temer amato bene?” (Will I forget you? … Fear not, beloved), a treat for Rosenmeyer as he conducts the singer (his wife, mezzo Dayen), accompanied by pianist Stanescu and orchestra.

And as a capper, a four-hand tour-de-force by Rosenmeyer and Sheetz of a “surprise” Brahms piano piece.

“There is something for every music lover in our varied program,” Rosenmeyer said.

The pianist/conductor said he is looking especially forward to working with Russian pianist Yakushev.

In a review in The New York Times, Yakushev received high praise: In the performance of “the notoriously difficult Prokofiev (7th Sonata) … Mr. Yakushev showed superb control, bringing the music to the brink of hysteria and the piano’s capacity for noise making, without ever letting it get away from him … Mr. Yakushev can do just about anything he wants.”

Rosenmeyer — who was raised in Argentina and Israel, and now lives in New York — has been with the FCC for nearly four years. (He has a master’s degree in conducting and music theory from the Mannes College of Music at The New School in Manhattan.)

When he arrived in Norwalk, he said he was thrilled to have won the position for several reasons: “The potential for spiritual connection, intellectual prying into masterpieces, sheer fun and the sense of community that is so special and unique to choral singing are all things that the FCC, its members and I can seek together.”

And so he has. “I’m comfortable and at ease here; we have progressed farther than I could have imagined. We have a lot of new members, and across the board we are a more cohesive ensemble … with better versatility and better rhythmic integrity,” among other improvements.

“We have a new level (of proficiency) and attendance is growing. I couldn’t be happier.”; Twitter: @PhyllisASBoros

Norwalk Concert Hall, 125 East Ave.. Saturday, May 14, 7:30 p.m. $30 in advance, $35 at the door, $5 for students. Group rates available. 203- 254-1333,