A piece that makes extensive use of pitch repetition is Ave sanctissima Maria. Here the prayer to the Virgin begins by listing various of her attributes: ‘mater Dei, regina caeli, porta paradisi, domina mundi, pura singularis’ (‘mother of God, queen of heaven, gate of paradise, ruler of the world, uniquely pure’). Gombert unites these statements by creating different but related motifs, each emphasizing the same pitch, and thus creating the effect of a single thought, expressed in different ways. The final section of the piece ends the disc with the invocation ‘et ora pro peccatis meis’ (‘and pray for [forgiveness of] my sins’), which is repeated twenty-seven times (a significant number, since it is the perfect 3 of the Trinity, raised to the power of itself); after the final cadence between soprano and tenor, Gombert writes an extended coda, in which the other three voices each repeat the phrase yet again, as if the prayer to the Virgin were continuing even as the piece ends. The devotional significance of this prayer is underlined by the indulgence of 11,000 years granted by Pope Sixtus IV, the builder of the Sistine Chapel and possibly the writer of the text, to anyone who said it devoutly.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2007