December 27 & 28, 2003
An evening with Esther Ofarim

Esther Ofarim in the interview of the Hamburger Morgenpost - picture © by Patrick Sun
Esther Ofarim during the interview of the Hamburger Morgenpost - photo © by Patrick Sun, art © by

Esther Ofarim performed in concert on December 27th and 28th at 17.00 h 
in the St. Pauli Theater, Hamburg. 
The concerts had huge success. Esther again surprised the audience by singing "In Germany before the war",
"A taste of honey" and her alltime Evergreen "Morning of my life". For more info, please read the concert review below by 
Robert van Leeuwen, a great fan from the Netherlands, who has taken part in both evenings.

The press:

Concert review Hamburger Morgenpost
Interview Hamburger Abendblatt
Interview Hamburger Morgenpost

Concert Review by Robert van Leeuwen:
(German translation)

With her concerts at the Hamburger Kammerspiele, Esther has built over the years
 an ever expanding audience, way beyond a cult following. 
This year she gave her traditional year-end concerts for the first time at the St. Pauli Theatre. 
It is a bigger hall than the Kammerspiele, yet fully packed with her adoring Hamburg public. 
Another difference was the time of the concerts changed into late matinees. 

Wearing a simple green-grayish deux-pièces, 
Esther opened surprisingly with EVERY NIGHT WHEN THE SUN GOES IN. 
Just accompanied by Yoni Rechter on piano, she gave a very delicate rendition of this classic 
American blues song.  This was followed by another traditional(Scottish) ballad, DIRTY OLD TOWN,
with Michail Paweletz joining in on violin.
The melody line and lyric of this song are so strong, it always captures you every time again. 
Next a beautiful French poem about despair set to incredibly beautiful music, PAVANE. 
Then Esther went back to the very first song she ever learnt, LAYLA, LAYLA. Maybe of all songs, 
this is the one she has sung the most, yet one never tires of it and with the help of basist Albert Sommer 
joining in, Esther built this song into one of the  highlights of the concerts.
Next a personal favorite of mine, Yoni's magnificent BESADE PATUACH. 
This song fits Esther like a glove making one think all those key changes are easy. 
Of course they are not and that is precisely her art, making it all seem so easy and fluent. 

Then the first of three Kurt Weill songs (all from his American period), September Song.
Esther's phrasing - she even sings on the consonants in the true Sinatra Tradition
- really makes you listen to the lyric. 
She is telling an ironic story, twinkle in the eye, graced with a beautiful melody. 
Another mini theatre play in a comparable vein is SHE'S LEAVING HOME. 
After all those high notes a more quiet moment with SHIR ERES. This one, too, always knocks
me out, such sheer beauty and tenderness, cleverly merged with DO DO L'ENFANT DO. 
Esther's last song before her short break was the haunting IN GERMANY BEFORE THE WAR, 
one of Randy Newman's few non-autobiographical compositions. 
Then followed the traditional instrumental intermezzo during which especially Michail displaying 
his huge talents as violonist. 
Next was a Hebrew love song (unnamed) sung by Yoni accompanying himself on the piano, 
proving he is a true artist by his own merit as well. 

Esther then returned with the Harold Arlen/Yip Harburg epic SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW. 
At first one thinks this is a song identified with Judy Garland and no one else should touch it, 
but that was before I heard Esther do it. 
She did take me over that rainbow for a few minutes and it went straight into the heart. 
Then she moved over to a jazzy mood with SPEAK LOW, the second Weill song. 
Next was the third composition by Yoni, the tender and enchanting TEN LI JAD.
 I wish she would finally record this song, so it could get the broad acclaim it deserves. 
Then the third Kurt Weill song, MOON OF ALABAMA, 
which sounds so much more mature and genuine nowadays compared to her original recording of it in 1969. 
Another song which has changed considerably from her original recording of it followed next, 
ME'EMEK (STU ADARIM). Sung at great pace with a wonderful rithmic backing. 
The official part closed with Noel Cowards' MAD ABOUT THE BOY, 
set to a tango arangement, enhancing even more its self-irony.

Usually the public gives Esther a hard time parting from her audience, 
but this time they really didn't want to let her go period! The first of the encores was a 
wonderful quiet meditative version of Leonard Cohen's BIRD ON A WIRE. 
Just after all that cheering, one could now hear a pin drop. 
Then a salute to the sixties with a reprise of MORNING OF MY LIFE, which according
to this listener didn't really fit in with the other songs. 
The absolute highpoint for me was TASTE OF HONEY. 
Keeping to the original Bobby Scott arrangement written especially for Esther, 
she hit me straight into the heart. 
Couldn't keep my eyes dry. Just for this song it was worth making the trip to Hamburg. 
GRUSS sung in Hebrew and German was supposed to be the very last encore and 
still the public did not want to let her go. So she reprised MAD ABOUT THE BOY. 

On the second day she closed with GUTEN ABEND, GUT' NACHT (she joked it was a little early for that) 
and TASTE OF HONEY followed ME'EMEK. 
Esther was in splendid voice and spirits throughout both performances. 
She has superb control over her voice in all registers, whether belting loudly or doing that 
soft refined singing, at which she is unparallelled. 
Thanks also to Yoni, Michail and Albert for their wondrful performances.

Robert van Leeuwen
December 29, 2003