• Martin Dalby
  • Cantica (1969)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Clifton Ensemble

  • clpfva
  • Soprano [=Tenor]
  • 10 min
  • Martin Dalby
  • settings of poems by Tommaso Campanella
  • English

Programme Note

Martin Dalby: Cantica for voice, clarinet, viola and piano (1969)

Cantica is the fourth in a series of musically related chamber works which include Variations for cello and piano (1966), Piano Trio (1967) and Commedia for clarinet and piano trio (1969). Cantica is a setting of four poems by Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639) from the "psalms" of "Cantica". The settings are scored for voice, clarinet, viola and piano and were commissioned by the Clifton Ensemble who first performed them in London in 1969.
© Martin Dalby

Signore, troppo peccai, troppo, il conosco;
Signor, piu non m'ammiro
del mio atroce martìro.
Nè le mie abbominevoli preghiere
di medicina, ma di mortal tesco
fur degne. Ahi, stolto e losco!
Dissi: - Guidica, Dio, - non - Miserere. -
Ma l'alta tua benigna sofferenza,
per cui più volte non mi fulminasti,
mi dà qualche credenza
che perdonanza alfin mi riserbasti.
Lord, too much I sinned, too much, I knew;
Lord, I no longer wonder at my appalling
torment. Nor were my loathsome prayers worthy of balm, but of deadly poison. Ah! foolish and darkened I said: Judge, God, - not - Have mercy. But your kindly patience, thanks to which, many times, you have not blasted me, gives me some assurance that you have reserved pardon for me at the last.
Io mi credevo Dio tener in mano,
non seguitando Dio,
ma l'argute ragion del senno mio,
che a me ed a tanti ministrâr la morte.
Benchè sagace e pio, l'ingegno umano
divien cieco e profano,
se pensa migliorar la comun sorte,
pria che mostrarti a' sensi suoi, Dio vero,
e mandarlo ed armarlo non ti degni,
come tuo messaggiero,
di miracoli e prove e contrassegni.
I believed I held God in my hand, though not following God, but the subtle reasonings of my intellect, that to me and so many have dealt death. Although wise and pious, human wit becomes blind and profane, if it thinks to better the common fate before you, true God, see fit to reveal yourself to its faculties, and send it and arm it as your messenger, with miracles and proofs and signs.
Quante prende dolcezze e meraviglie
l'anima, uscendo dal gravante e cieco
nostro terreno speco!
Snella per tutto il mondo e lieta vola,
riconosce l'essenze, e vede seco
gli ordini santi e l'eroica famiglia,
che la guida e consiglia,
e come il primo Amor tutti consola,
e quanti mila n'ha una stella sola. How much sweetness and wonder seizes on the soul, when it comes out from this heavy, blinded cave of ours! Clean and glad it flies through all the universe, recognizes the essences of all things, and sees by its side the orders of saints and the heroic family, which guide and counsel it, and how first Love comforts all, and how many spirits a single star holds

Tardi, Padre, ritorno al tuo consiglio,
tardi il medico invoco:
tanto aggravato, il morbo non dà loco.
Quanto più akzar vo'gli occhi al tuo splendore,
più mi sento abbagliar, gravarmi il ciglio.
Poi con fiero periglio
dal lago inferior tento uscir fuore
con quelle forze che non ho, meschino.
Meschino me, per me stesso perdute,
chè l'aiuto divino,
che sol salvarmi può, bramo e rifiuto! Late, father, I come back for your counsel, late I summon the doctor; so worsened the disease that it does not yield. The more I wish to raise my eyes to your brightness, the more I feel dazzled, my eyelids weighing. Then, to my fierce danger, I try to get out of the bottommost lake with those powers that, wretch, I do not possess. Wretch that I am, lost thanks to myself, since I desire and refuse the divine aid which alone can save me!