Esther Ofarim Esther Ofarim in London

Esther Ofarim Esther Ofarim in London
If my parents knew about Esther Ofarim and didn't tell me about her, we are going to have words. The CD reissue of this Bob Johnston-produced 1972 recording is what classical pop crossover music should have, but failed miserably to, become. Knee-weakeningly gorgeous, Esther Ofarim in London has the potential to become saccharine and schmaltzy but never goes there. Ofarim (sometimes referred to as the Israeli Maria Callas of pop and folk) covers Leonard Cohen ("Suzanne," "Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye") and kills Bill Hawkins' hauntingly beautiful "Gnostic Serenade" dead (in a good way) with her sublime, ageless voice. Is she 20? Is she 50? Does it even matter? Ofarim's vocals are buoyed by sweeping, cinematic orchestration that adds to the epic quality of this dazzling, almost lost album. (Bureau B)