Relatively infrequently heard are the Magnificats, which are alternatim settings. The six-voice Magnificat on the sixth tone is one jewel among the many to be found in Palestrina’s numerous settings of this text. Here the scoring favours the lower voices, giving that richness of sonority which is characteristic of the famous Missa Papae Marcelli
, shot through with rays of light from the upper voices. There is palpable joy in the way Palestrina responds to the text: two of the most striking moments in this particular setting are the sublime series of cascades at ‘salutari meo’ and the mysterious majesty of ‘et sanctum nomen eius’. Both of these remind us that Palestrina was not only a model of liturgical propriety and contrapuntal perfection, but an inspired melodist, able to react with genuine sensitivity to the texts of the Church.
from notes by Ivan Moody © 2003