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Album Review

In the late '80s and early '90s it had become somewhat fashionable, trendy, and chic for symphony orchestras to perform and record rock & roll classics. Indeed, some of the orchestral transcriptions of Yes and Pink Floyd are amazing and even essential. No rock & roll artists have been more exposed in this light than the Beatles. There are literally dozens of CDs available of John Lennon/Paul McCartney tunes by symphony orchestras, classical pianists, and/or chamber orchestras. Imagine by Ofra Harnoy is one of the best. This CD features Harnoy on solo cello accompanied at times by the Oxford String Quartet or the Armin String Quartet. But the real treats on this outstanding CD are her solo performances. Harnoy plays with such grace, restraint, and feeling that these pieces, sans vocals, take on new meaning. Hearing these familiar pop tunes in ambient and minimalist stylings is a delightful experience. Lennon and McCartney have been justifiably hailed as the greatest songwriting duo ever. Their lyrics tell great stories and are great poetry. Harnoy's restrained and reverent cello tells new versions or adds chapters to the originals. Her version of "Michelle" becomes a bittersweet dirge and powerful dark minimalism. "Yesterday" will have deep listeners contemplating their own fates and mourning losses. Of course, no Beatles collection is complete without George Harrison or Ringo Starr selections. Harnoy's arrangements of "Here Comes the Sun" and "Octopus' Garden" are brilliant. There are two of Lennon's solo compositions as well. The title track, "Imagine," is killer. "Free As a Bird," one of the "lost pieces," is true to form also. Oddly enough, there are no pieces from McCartney's solo career. This CD is lots of fun, entertaining as hell, and absolutely essential for ambient listeners and fans of the Fab Four.


Born: January 31, 1965 in Hadera, Israel

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Canadian cellist Ofra Harnoy is one of the best-known performers on her instrument worldwide. She has given concerts on five continents and has played at the request of Charles, Prince of Wales; President Bill Clinton; three Canadian prime ministers; and several times for the imperial Japanese family. Harnoy was not born in Canada but in Israel, daughter to Jacob Harnoy, a classical record producer and compulsive record collector whose holdings run to more than 30,000 items. She received her first...
Full Bio
Imagine, Ofra Harnoy
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