When we listen to Phinot’s double-choir motets and Lamentations, it is soon apparent that the composer’s main objective is to create musical structures rather than to respond to a liturgical requirement. By far the largest of these is Incipit oratio Jeremiae prophetae
, a multi-sectional as well as polychoral composition. Phinot departs from the standard practice of Renaissance Lamentation settings in not composing music for the Hebrew letters that begin each verse; rather, the four middle sections comprise a continuous narrative of the first eight verses of the book’s fifth chapter. Phinot contrasts an upper-voice section (‘Pupilli facti sumus’) with a lower (‘Cervicibus minabamur’), creating an alternative division of the eight voices to the usual one between two SATB choirs. His control of the sonorous possibilities of eight-part writing is seen most effectively at the beginning of the final narrative section (‘Patres nostri peccaverunt’), where the full choir returns in force after the two reduced-voice sections.
from notes by Roger Jacob & Stephen Rice © 2009