The motets Pater noster and Ave Maria, which seem to have been intended as a pair, appearing together in almost all of their sources, are both based on well-known plainchants. The tone for the Lord’s Prayer would have been sung at most celebrations of Mass, and Gombert’s setting is suffused with the chant phrases, worked as usual in his flexible style of imitative counterpoint. It was performed in the nineteenth century by the pioneering musicologist François-Joseph Fétis (1784–1871), who stated that it was the equal of anything by Palestrina (high praise indeed at a time when the latter’s contrapuntal techniques were regarded as the ideal), and produced a deep impression on his audience. The Ave Maria similarly reworks its chant material, notably adapting the famous melody as it does so, with the second entry of the alto producing a chromatically altered version.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2007