The first of five canzonas for two equal four-part choirs in Sacrae Symphoniae
, relatively traditional pieces clearly reflecting the symmetrical formal patterns of the old chanson. The Canzon primi toni a 8
(here transposed down a fourth) is dance-like, its pavan-like rhythms and regular sequences appropriate to the ‘worthy and pleasing harmony’ (Diruta), ‘halfway between sad and cheerful’ (Zarlino) of the 1st mode, giving way twice to a tripla in sedate galliard style.
The two choirs are very much of one mind, their conversation consisting mainly of dignified agreement, and the beautiful division-like sequences (here embellished ad libitum by the cornettists) create a quality of serene nobility.
from notes by Timothy Roberts © 1997