was probably composed in about 1507, when Maximilian I was laying plans for his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor. The plainsong Virgo prudentissima
is the antiphon to the Magnificat at First Vespers on the Feast of the Assumption. The motet’s text, by the humanist Vadian, is founded on the hope that the Virgin will look mercifully on Maximilian, having received the intercessions of the three Archangels. The ‘Georgius’ mentioned in the second section was Jurij (Georg) Slatkonja, Maximilian’s Kapellmeister and later Bishop of Vienna. Just as in Optime pastor
, Isaac maintains a strong stylistic difference between those sections which include chant and those without it, though here the contrast is more marked. The duets are longer and more lively; the long-note sections more massive because they move more slowly. The build-up to the end is typically impressive, capped by another abstract musical pattern: a pun on the solmization syllables taken from the final words of the text ‘ut sol’ (‘as the sun’), which in untransposed pitch was equivalent to the notes C and G respectively.
from notes by Peter Phillips © 1991