Nicolas Gombert sets Musae Jovis
in the Phrygian mode. Gombert was perhaps ten years younger than Appenzeller, being born in the early to mid-1490s, and his six-voice lament seems to be in the style of the 1530s, when most of his works appeared, rather than of Josquin’s year of death, 1521. Like Appenzeller he includes archaic elements, and in particular one that refers unmistakably to Josquin: the ‘Circumdederunt me’ tenor appears, in the long notes of an old-style cantus firmus, but here it is transposed down one note, beginning on E instead of F, and thus conforming to the Phrygian tonality of the piece. Since Josquin’s Nymphes des bois
, itself a lament for an older composer, employed exactly this procedure with the ‘Requiem aeternam’ chant, the intention is clear. The comparative rarity with which Gombert employed cantus firmus technique underlines the significance of the gesture in this case. The style of the motet is a constant ebb and flow of counterpoint, with much less overt formal punctuation than Josquin’s music; unity is achieved by limiting the melodic material used, giving an introspective tone to the setting. The final statement of Josquin’s elevation to the heavens is marked with a turn to triple time.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2012