Alex Webster, Cannibal Corpse, and More


Alex Webster in June 2012 (Jonas Rogowski / CC BY SA 3.0 / Wikimedia)

In my latest Music for a While, I utter a very strange sentence: “I’d like to give you about 25 seconds of ‘Frantic Disembowelment.’” When you listen to a podcast, of course, you can’t hear the quotation marks. “Frantic Disembowelment” is a song — a piece? — by Cannibal Corpse. This is a death-metal band, formed in Buffalo. “Frantic Disembowelment” comes from Cannibal Corpse’s album The Wretched Spawn.

The band’s bass player is Alex Webster — who, a couple of weeks ago, “followed” me on Twitter. (I followed him back.) I conveyed this information to a rocker friend of mine, asking, “Have I arrived?” I believe she was impressed.

In the new Music for a While, I also have a quartet of songs about the moon — two classical, two popular. On Halloween, we had a “blue moon,” a very rare event. This put me in mind of the Rodgers & Hart song (“Blue Moon”), and Dvořák (“Song to the Moon”), and so on and so forth. You could moon for several episodes of a music podcast.

Recently, I brought up Sergiu Celibidache, the Romanian conductor (1912–96). He was an odd and brilliant fellow. He did not like recordings: the making of them or the listening to them. He once said, “Listening to a recording is like kissing a photograph of Brigitte Bardot.” Evidently, he did not say “kissing.” But posterity has cleaned it up for him.

A reader wrote me to say, “Unfamiliar as I was with Sergiu Celibidache, I sought out his work, after you referred to him. Listening to the below clip, all I can say is, ‘My God, what genius.’”

What my correspondent had listened to was the ending — just the ending — of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, played by the Munich Philharmonic under Celibidache in 1983. And that’s how the podcast ends, too. Again, here.

“Celi” had genius, yes, as the greatest performers do. But Bruckner? A genius and a half. His Fourth, transcendent, is typical of him.

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