falls into two sections and exhibits varied duo combinations between the three individual voices, as well as the full trio texture. The rise and fall of the vocal lines is handled with Binchois’s customary fluency and intelligence, and, as in many of the songs, the meditative plangency of the idiom is shot through with distinctive melodic and rhythmic features which allow the music to grow and intensify without undermining its essentially poetic and lyric mode of utterance. The sense of sheer ease and flow is seductive, but also to an extent deceptive. The melodic contours are in fact delicately controlled and the music’s trajectory carefully plotted, yet without any sense of inappropriate rigour or constraint. The same goes for the overall pacing and for the expressive ‘points of arrival’ within the course of the piece, which all seem quite effortless but are in fact beautifully – and surely quite consciously – judged. All in all, Binchois’s subtle rhetorical expansion of the motet’s ‘lyric moment’ has been effected with a sense of naturalness that artfully conceals the mechanics of elaboration. Indeed, Binchois had no equal as a melodist in the fifteenth century, and this is as apparent here as in his rondeaux and ballades. The motet text is a subtly woven tissue of ideas and images elaborated around the concepts of the Cross and the Holy Lance, and their symbolic place in the scheme of Christian redemption. Though the theological and symbolic associations are complex and ramified, the poem itself is lucidly expressed, with a beautiful simplicity and concision, and shows, like Binchois’s music, an exquisite sense of expressive tact and decorum.
from notes by Philip Weller © 2005