Josquin’s motet is characteristic of his four-voice writing in maintaining a sparse texture with the voices imitating strongly memorable phrases. The characteristic rising leap of a fifth at the beginning of the piece exemplifies this trait of Josquin: frequently the voices work in pairs, as at ‘nuntians ei verbum’. Appropriation of plainsong melodies is common in Josquin’s music, as is true of many Renaissance composers: in Missus est Gabriel
this is most clearly seen at the words ‘Ave Maria’, where the famous chant is strikingly introduced in the bass, the other voices following at a distance of two breves, all on the same pitch. Finally the closing ‘Alleluia’ is set to an evocative ‘fauxbourdon’ texture—a succession of first inversion chords that frequently was associated with sweetness in early sixteenth-century music.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2010