Movement 1: Kyrie
Movement 2: Gloria
Movement 3: Credo
Movement 4: Sanctus and Benedictus
Movement 5: Agnus Dei
In purely musical terms Philippe Verdelot’s Si bona suscepimus (published in 1526) was an ideal composition to parody, with its transparent melodic lines, clearly delineated sections and austere textures. The formal beauty of it is increased by a hidden repeat in the music, so that, although the phrases run continuously, the words ‘the Lord has given, the Lord has taken away’ are used as a refrain, giving the overall shape of ABCB (this incidentally was Verdelot’s repeat, not Job’s). Morales therefore had at his disposal a wealth of instantly recognisable musical motifs, arranged into three broad groupings, in a texture which gave plenty of scope for contrapuntal elaboration. He duly increased the number of voice-parts from five to six, adding a second soprano part, whilst being careful to borrow Verdelot’s motifs from within their pre-existing sections, and not mixing them up.
This led Morales to concentrate on filling out Verdelot’s spare and sombre score, intensifying the imitation and extending the polyphonic argument in ways which can be easily heard. Some of these extensions build into passages of exceptional power—like the ‘Amen’ to the Creed; others, like the highly elaborated Agnus Dei, acquire a tenderness which points straight to Morales’s Spanish upbringing. The very opening of the first movement, the first Kyrie, shows how resourcefully he borrowed from, filled and enlarged his model—all the notes of the opening of the Verdelot are there, but buried in a far richer and more complex texture. It is as if an austere line-drawing of the Virgin and Child has been taken as the centrepiece of a large and intensely coloured painting of the Holy Family with Saints in glory.
from notes by Peter Phillips © 2000