Sunday, October 07, 2007

Classical debacle

I can't help but feel bad for the fine folks of Chicago. When I was in college, the downtown Tower Records and later, the Crow's Nest were destinations on any trip I made to the Windy City. Tower's initially competitive pricing ($4.99) on Naxos releases, and their extensive selection, helped me build my collection.

Later, when Tower's problems began to show, prices went up, and selection shrank, the Crow's Nest was a nice alternative.

I fail to see how the country's third largest city can't seem to support a single record store with a respectable classical. This is especially sad when you consider at one time Seattle had at least three stores with excellent classical sections.

For my first four years in Seattle, I could choose between a small Silver Platters with a fine classical section store or two Tower Records. Silver Platters had the prices, Tower, especially the Queen Anne store had the selection.

When Tower closed its doors last year I thought classical music would be harder to come by. Then, when I came back from a week of work in Olympia, WA, a Silver Platters had opened in Tower's old Queen Anne space.

It took some time, but the Silver Platters classical section has eclipsed Tower's and classical sales continue to be strong. Best of all, Silver Platters' staff is consistently informed. Sure, the guy who works in the classical section has limitless information about nearly every disk in the store, but everyone else I have encountered has knowledge too. When I picked up Oceana the other day, I stumbled, unexpectedly into a conversation with the aging rock and roll fan manning the cash register. He was a fan of Ainadamar and was anxious to get Oceana.

Gerald Fisher, one of the people Manning interviewed for his article called classical collectors as "obsessed individuals."

This is true. How else can you explain why, after a vacation, I spent an evening crouched over the used classical section pouring over the some 300 new cd's that had arrived in my absence?

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