Monday, December 26, 2011

Two Christmas Gripes: Restaurant Scourges and Disappearing Trash Receptacles

I was having a very pleasant dinner the other evening in a fine independent St. Paul restaurant, enjoying a marvelous meal, when I learned that the restaurant had been taken by the lowest of the low: the no show. The proprietors had set aside about one quarter of the restaurant for a large party, about fifteen. The table sat empty and eventually the owner called to find out that the offending party was now in a Minneapolis restaurant and not coming. Because it was a large group, the owner had called earlier in the day to confirm the reservation and was told that everything was a go. Come on people! The restaurant business is tough enough without this kind of inconsiderate conduct.

Okay, what's going on with trash receptacles at drive-through restaurants and coffee shops? Have you noticed that more and more drive-throughs are pulling out their convenient driver-side trash cans? Pulled them at my Starbucks. None at the McDonald's I visited the other day. I inquired of the lady at Starbucks and was told that they were taken out because, "We are not in the business of collecting trash." Hmmm. Seems to me they give out a lot of trash and that people are mostly just disposing of the trash from the prior day's visit. So much for customer convenience. I guess Starbucks just found a way to foist their drive-through trash on others. This is a new industry standard that I don't like.

Ten Recommended Classical Recordings: A Sampler for Those New to the Classical Scene

The following is a list of classical recordings that offer a variety of classical genres: opera, symphonies, keyboard, violin concerto, solo cello, piano concerto, and oratorio. Though it is mostly mainstream with respect to the represented composers, it reflects a variety of interesting sounds.

Because the list is intended for someone who is starting to explore classical music many of the recordings are now budget issues. If you have thoughts on the list or would like to pipe in with your own, please do!

1. Mozart: The Magic Flute; Sir Colin Davis, conductor, Staatskapelle Dresden, orchestra; Rundfunkchor Leipzig, choir; Moll, Schreier, Price, Serra, Melbye, Venuti; Philips Duo, recorded in 1985, released on CD in 1994.

2. Beethoven: Symphonies No. 5 and 7, Carlos Kleiber, Wiener Philharmoniker; Deutsche Grammophon, recorded in 1975 and 1976, released on CD in 1996.

3. Bach: Keyboard Pieces, Toccata, BWV 911; Partita BWV 826; English Suite No. 2, BWV 807; Argerich; Deutsche Grammophon, recorded in 1980, released on CD in 2000.

4. Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D; Brahms: Violin Concerto in D; Jascha Heifetz; Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony Orchestra; RCA, recorded in 1957, released on SACD in 2005.

5. Panorama—Edvard Grieg, two discs of various piano and orchestral works; Deutsche Grammophon Panorama, recorded on various dates, released on CD in 2000.

6. Bach: Six Unaccompanied Suites for Cello; Yo-Yo Ma; Sony, recorded in 1983, released on CD in 1990.

7. Mozart: The Great Piano Concertos, Vol. I—Brendel; Sir Neville Mariner, The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; Philips Duo, recorded in 1972-82, released on CD in 1994.

8. Handel: The Messiah; Sir Colin Davis, London Philharmonic Orchestra; Philips Duo, recorded in 1966, released on CD in 1994.

9. Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 and Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1; Martha Argerich, Philips, recorded 1982 and 1980, released on CD in 1995.

10. Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1-4 (separate disc one); and Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 5-6 and Orchestral Suite No. 1 (separate disc two), Neville Marriner, The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields; EMI, recorded in 1985, released on CD in 2004.