Monte’s setting of the Magnificat in the sixth tone is, like most such canticles of this period, heavily indebted to the recitation tone to which the odd-numbered verses are chanted. Since the sixth tone begins on F, has its medial cadence on A, and returns to F at the end of the verse, the tonal outline of the polyphonic verses is in most cases similar to this template. The first verse gives a clear example, with the highest voice singing a slightly decorated version of the tone which cadences ‘in the minor’ at ‘spiritus meus’, then returns to the ‘tonic’ the first time this voice sings ‘salutari meo’: following this, the tenor repeats the chant phrase while the other three voices elaborate around it. The next two polyphonic verses adopt very similar strategies, but with markedly different textures, especially ‘Fecit potentiam’, where the opening phrase ‘He has shown the power’ is expressed with forceful chords. More variety is evident in the final two verses, where ‘Sicut locutus est’ is reduced to three voices by the omission of the highest, and the doxology breaks into a more expansive style, with running quavers to create a suitable climax. The entire Magnificat is extremely concise, yet displays a mastery of many polyphonic techniques in an idiom that is overall somewhat conservative—a microcosm of Monte’s compositional output, one might say.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2008