Palestrina’s Missa Emendemus in melius
was published in 1594, the year of the composer’s death. The motet on which the Mass is based is not known, but from the character of the Mass’s music it can be surmised that the model was for four voices, concise, and harmonically taut. Palestrina’s artistry is nowhere more finely displayed than in the second Agnus Dei, where the texture expands from four to five voices in order to accommodate a carefully controlled canon at the fifth between bass and second tenor—art concealing art.
from notes by Jeremy Summerly © 2013