Verdelot’s madrigals (and indeed motets) make eminently suitable models for the imitation Mass genre that dominated the later sixteenth century. As formulated by the theorist Pietro Cerone, writing in 1613, the essence of this technique is to transplant sections of polyphony into crucial moments of one’s Mass setting, more or less in the order that they appear in the model. This represents only part of the spectrum of borrowing techniques used in the century preceding Cerone’s remark: thematic transformation, juxtaposition of polyphonic sections in quite different ways, recomposition of imitative counterpoint, all found their place in the sixteenth-century imitation Mass. Monte’s technique in his Missa Ultimi miei sospiri
does however resemble that described by the theorist: each Mass movement begins with a version of the madrigal’s opening, albeit slightly varied. Elsewhere he is relatively sparing in the use of borrowed material: examples include ‘Domine Deus’ (‘Lord God’) in the Gloria, which adapts ‘Dal tuo fedel’’ (‘that your faithful one’) from the madrigal, and ‘per quem omnia facta sunt’ (‘through him all things were made’) in the Credo, taking the phrase ‘Gitene ratt’in ciel’’ (‘go swiftly to heaven’). This latter phrase is also recast in triple time to form the basis of the Osanna.
In common with many of his contemporaries, Monte divides his Mass movements into formal subsections. The ‘Et incarnatus’ section of the Credo is one example: here the solemnity of the words is underlined by a full, slow chordal texture, followed by a brief upper-voice section for the ‘Crucifixus’. Another division separates the Christological section of the Credo with that dealing with the Holy Spirit and the Church: the latter is notable for its syncopated figures, a compositional device that adds to the vigour of this largely joyful final section. It also injects a certain madrigalian feeling to the movement, though such syncopation is in fact absent from Verdelot’s model.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2008