This film documents an all-Carter concert in New York on December 8 2011, honouring the modernist composer on his 103rd birthday: there he is in the audience, alert and smiling. Carter, who died 11 months later, was notable not just for his intellect and longevity, but also for the prolific output of his last years and the way his music mellowed – without losing its cut and thrust.
Long ignored by fellow Americans, he was lionised in London, so it is no surprise to find this DVD being released, at Carter’s request, on a label that has hitherto devoted itself to British composers. Alongside solo instrumental works from his Indian summer and affectionate spoken tributes by five leading British composers (filmed separately), it features an astonishing four world premieres, including A Sunbeam’s Architecture for tenor and chamber ensemble – testament to the expressive concision Carter found towards the end of his extraordinary life.
103rd Birthday Concert