Fairfield is a land of many firsts.
And on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 9, the "No. 1" list becomes a bit longer.
The First Church Congregational, which was founded the same year as the town, celebrates its 375th anniversary with the U.S. premiere of the 1744 Alessandro Scarlatti Concerto for Harpsichord No. 3, performed by the Chamber Orchestra of New York.
Dupre la Tour and the Chamber Orchestra of New York, led by Salvatore Di Vittorio, will repeat the concert on Thursday evening, Feb. 13, at Manhattan's Carnegie Hall. (Tickets: $40, $30; $20 for students and seniors.)
In discussing the premiere, Maestro Di Vittorio pointed out that "the first movement begins with a slow, thoughtful overture of sound, followed by a soliloquy from the harpsichord, and a regal, yet firm response by the strings. The cadenza then gives way to a second, final movement marked `Andante con spirito' that is quite effervescent with endless harpsichord attacks, colored and surrounded by light string counterpoint."
All in all, quite lovely, Dupre la Tour said.
To introduce the American public to such a beautiful and rare piece of music is an extraordinary pleasure and privilege, said Dupre la Tour, who also is a renowned pianist and organist.
Zuckermann Harpsichords International, in Stonington, announced that the soloist will perform on "our new Italian harpsichord (fashioned after one made in Italy by Carlo Grimaldi in 1697), which Dupre la Tour also voiced" (meaning that he musically designed the instrument to his specifications).
Also on the Italian Baroque program is the Connecticut premiere of Ottorino Respighi's Suite in G Major for Organ (also featuring Dupre la Tour) and Strings, in its original, completed version of 23 minutes. The orchestra will be featured on Arcangelo Corelli's Concerto Grosso No. 9 in F Major and Antonio Vivaldi's "Summer" from "The Four Seasons," featuring Second Concertmaster Daniel Khalikov, a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra's first-violin section.
How the Scarlatti piece has come to Fairfield has a lot to do with serendipity, Dupre la Tour said.
"Salvatore also is a composer ... who is now completing the unfinished early works of Respighi, under commission from the Respighi family and archives. Di Vittorio and Scarlatti share the same hometown, Palermo (Italy), but he works a lot in Bologna doing research at the Respighi archives."
It was in Bologna that the maestro heard about Ut Orpheus Edizioni, which "published the reconstruction of the Scarlatti Concerti by Ottavio Dantone. It is surprising that no orchestra seems to have performed the piece in the U.S. since its publication in 2004," said Dupre la Tour, who has a doctorate in musical arts from the Juilliard School.
"To share this musical experience with (Fairfield County) and a first-class group of musicians will be very exciting," he said.
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First Church Congregational, 148 Beach Road, Fairfield. Sunday, Feb. 9, 4 p.m. $20, includes a post-concert wine-and-cheese reception; $10 for students. www.firstchurchfairfield.org.