Palestrina: Missa Ecce ego Johannes & other sacred music
CDH55407 Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
This was a new direction for music, different to the style inherited and developed by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525/6–1594), one derived essentially from Flemish composers such as Josquin Des Prez. Imitation was at the centre of their work: a melody would be sung in one voice and then copied a few beats later by another part at a different but complementary pitch, followed by yet another voice and so forth. This style can be seen in a late form in the motet Cantantibus organis (1575) by Palestrina, where the opening intervals of a fourth or a fifth are imitated in each voice part and many themes emerge during the course of the piece, all of which are playfully repeated in a true musical democracy. The new polychoral style was often more concerned with homophony, when a single choir could declaim the text with all voice parts moving essentially at the same time and another choir could respond. Palestrina embraced this style wholeheartedly, producing in his later publications many pieces for two choirs and some for three.
from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2011