The Magnificat primi toni
is a composition which comes from Palestrina’s third volume of Magnificats. It is, like most of his Magnificats, written in the alternatim style, but, unlike many of them, it employs up to six voices. Its style is mainly polyphonic and fugal and has a rich texture, but variety is obtained by using different combinations of high and low voices and in places a lighter texture. The Magnificat is preceded and followed by its plainsong antiphon ‘Hodie Christus natus est’, on which, as explained above, the double-choir motet and the Mass are based.
from notes by Jon Dixon © 2003