Gombert’s setting of Inviolata, integra, et casta es, Maria is one among over twenty from the sixteenth century. At the head of this complex is the famous setting by Josquin Desprez, also in five parts: Gombert’s piece alludes obliquely to Josquin’s in its opening and (more obviously) at the phrase ‘O benigna, o Maria, o regina’ (‘Merciful Mary, queen’). Other settings make even closer reference to Josquin, including two—one of which is also attributed to Gombert but is unlikely to be his—that take the two canonic voices from Josquin’s motet and write entirely new settings around them. The shared basis for most Inviolata motets is a plainchant sequence melody, though the version found in modern chant books is evidently not the same as that known to Gombert and Josquin, since their motets begin with three repeated notes, whereas the modern version begins f-g-f-g-a. The monophonic setting of Inviolata presented on this recording is therefore newly written, based on the melodic material of Gombert’s motet (insofar as his thorough variation technique permits this to be isolated), conflated with a modern version of the chant taken from a Dominican antiphoner, which preserves aspects of the older melody.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2007