The structures of the Magnificats in the second and fourth modes (hypodorian and hypophrygian respectively) are formulaic, yet Praetorius displays an impressive ability to build innovative musical architecture using the strict scaffolding of the period. The even-numbered verses of the canticles are set polyphonically and bichorally in duple time while the odd-numbered verses are sung to the unadorned plainchant of the relevant mode. The polyphonic verses take the notes of the chant as their starting point, and each verse is carried away with a flight of fancy based as much on the speech-rhythm of the words as on their meaning. Both Glorias are set entirely polyphonically, the fourth-tone Magnificat alternating between triple and duple time and the second-tone Magnificat reserving its muscular triple-time section for the closing words ‘et in saecula saeculorum. Amen’.
from notes by Jeremy Summerly © 2008