“Yishakeyni (Sweeter than Wine)” sets the first four verses of “Song of Songs,” the great love song of the Bible. It invites the listener into a realm of human and Divine love which transcends boundaries through intimate merging. In this realm, all is beauty, with longing and ecstasy the poles of expression.
The soprano sings the original text in Hebrew, with a modal melody derived from the traditional cantillation for “Song of Songs.” She also plays with the sounds and sensuality of the language itself, sometimes using vowels alone, as if disrobing the words of their consonants for greater intimacy. The piano and flute provide a gentle harmonic and melodic landscape for the Song.
It is my hope that by entering the world of “Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs),” a world known to mystics and lovers from all traditions, we will come closer to making its reality our own.
Yi-sha-key-ni min-shi-kot pi-hu
O that He would kiss me with His lips!
ki to-vim do-de-cha mi-ya-yin
For Your love is sweeter than wine.
al keyn a-la-mot a-hey-vu-cha
Therefore do the maidens love You
mash-key-ni a-cha-re-cha na-ru-tza
Take me with You, let us hasten.
he-vi-a-ni ha-me-lech cha-da-rav
The Lover has brought me into His chambers.
na-gi-la v- nis-m’-cha bach
We will be glad and rejoice in You.
naz-ki-ra do-de-cha mi-ya-yin
We will find Your love more fragrant than wine.
Rightly do they love You.
(translation by the composer)
Yishakeyni received the 2004 Miriam Gideon Award from the International Alliance for Women in Music.
Performed above by the Jerusalem Lyric Trio, Amalia Ishak, soprano; Wendy Eisler-Kashy, flute; and Allan Sternfield, piano, at the University of North Carolina Wilmington in a concert presented by the Temple of Israel. Part two of that performance is shown on this page. View part one here.