The Allegory of Desire

— The Song of Songs in Western and Oriental traditions (2016)

Zefiro Torna – Vocalconsort Berlin – Ghalia Benali

  1. Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1702) - Meine Freundin, du bist schön (from ‘Hochzeitskantate’/Altbachisches Archiv)
  2. John Dunstable (1390-1453) - Quam pulchra es
  3. Hildegard von Bingen (1098 - 1179) - Ghalia Benali / Text: Abdalla Ghoneem (Egypt,1990) - Favus distillans - Mw'soul
  4. Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377) - Maugré mon cuer - de ma dolour confortés - Quia amore langueo
  5. Ghalia Benali (1968) / Text: Abdalla Ghoneem & Ghalia Benali - Last embrace
  6. Heinrich Schütz (1585 - 1672) - Ego dormio
  7. Ghalia Benali / Text: Zakaria.M (Egypt, 1992) - Dry Veins
  8. Orlandus Lassus (1532-1594) - Veni dilecti
  9. Allessandro Grandi (1586-1630) - O, quam tu pulchra es
  10. Riad Al Sunbaty (Egypt 1906-1981) for Oum Kalthoum / Text: Rābiʻa al-ʻAdawiyya (Iraq 8th C) - Araftu'l Hawa
  11. Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) - Pulchra es (from 'Vespro della beata Vergine')
  12. Dietrich Buxtehude (c.1637-1707) - Ad latus - Surge amica mea (from 'Membra Jesu nostri')
  13. Giovanni Felice Sances (c.1600-1679) - Vulnerasti cor meum
  14. Trad. (Iraq 9th C, Andalusia 14th C) - Lama Bada
  15. Johann Christoph Bach - Mein Freund ist mein (chaconne) from the cantata 'Meine Freundin, du bist schön'
  16. Ghalia Benali - Dama dai'man


The Hebrew Bible contains an extremely mysterious book known as the Song of Salomon, Canticle of Canticles or the Song of Songs. The book reads like a compilation of poems thematically centered around the theme of human love. The main characters are two lovers of the opposite sex. The poetry is rich in its imagery, often plainly erotic and suggestive. The Song of Songs is set in a sublimated world, it can be seen as an allegory for God's love and as a drive for mysticism. For centuries it has formed an inspiration for numerous oriental and western artists as well as scientists.

Was zunächts befremdlich wirkt, wird schnell zu einer grosen Bereicherung; bald schon treten Orient und Okzident in einen Dialog. Gmünder Tagespost – 02.08.2016

Zefiro Torna created this exceptional program in 2013, together with Vocalconsort Berlin and Tunisian singer and artist Ghalia Benali. In this program, single voiced madrigals with instrumental accompaniment, vocal duets and trios, a women's choir and polyphonic settings by composers such as von Bingen, de Machaut, Dunstable, Agricola, Lassus, Grandi, Sances, Monteverdi, Schütz, Buxtehude and J.Ch. Bach interact with traditional Arab songs, narrating texts by ‘Sufi’ poets and by a new generation of poets such as the Egyptian Abdallah Ghoneem. Creating an inspiring dialogue between cultures and history, ‘The Allegory of Desire’ bridges the distance between sacrality and humanity.

During the last couple of years, they gained success on prestigious podiums in Brussels, Berlin, Hamburg, Winterthur, Sevilla, Vilnius and Amsterdam. ‘The Allegory of Desire’ was released by Warner Classics in October 2016.

Zefiro Torna
Cécile Kempenaers soprano
Griet De Geyter soprano
Jowan Merckx flutes, percussion
Romina Lischka viola da gamba, Indian chant
Jurgen De bruyn lute, theorbo, artistic direction

Vocalconsort Berlin
Verena Gropper soprano
Anne Bierwirth alto
Stephan Gähler tenor
Johannes Klugling tenor
Christoph Drescher bass

Ghalia Benali Arabic chant, compositions

Musical supervision: Manuel Mohino
Audio recording, mixing and editing: Manuel Mohino
Booklet text: Ilja Stephan & Jurgen De bruyn
Photograph cover: Lieven Dirckx
Photographs booklet: Sebastian Bolesch
Artwork: Jef Cuypers
Production Warner Music: Brigitte Ghyselen
Recorded: June 2016, Eglise Saint-Rémi, Franc-Waret

Released by Warner Classics