Any mid-to-late sixteenth-century composer attempting a setting of the Psalm text Miserere mei, Deus
knew that he stood in the shadow of Josquin Desprez
, whose five-voice setting was one of the best-known and most influential motets of the period. Vaet manages to stand aside from the Josquin tradition somewhat, whilst nonetheless nodding to it. Josquin repeated the opening phrase ‘Have mercy on me, God’ after each verse, providing a powerful unifying theme recognizable instantly from the semitone up to and back down from the first syllable of ‘Deus’. Vaet opens with a fantasia on this melody, referring to it but not allowing it to suffuse the texture as Josquin did. He then moves away from the motif, creating his own rich sonority with a preponderance of lower voices, before finally returning to it to close the motet.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2009