Josquin’s Praeter rerum seriem
must rank amongst his very greatest achievements. It takes the form of a succession of carefully worked motifs around the devotional song on which it is based. For much of the piece the polyphony is presented antiphonally between the three upper voices, when the song is in the first soprano, and the three lower voices, when it is in the tenor. This method is introduced at the very opening with the lower scoring, resulting in so powerful a piece of writing that Rore based the openings of all five of his movements on it, as well as one subsidiary section (at ‘Et iterum’ in the Credo). The second part of Josquin’s motet is rather freer than the first, concealing the song in what has become a more consistently six-part texture, which breaks into triple-time where the text makes final reference to the mystery of the Trinity, before returning to the duple time of ‘Mater ave’.
from notes by Peter Phillips © 1994