The six-part Viri Galilaei is a dramatic work, with striking use of different groupings of voices: the opening duet is succeeded by a five-voice passage, then by a high-lying quartet and a lower-pitched passage again for four voices. This continues throughout the motet, as also does the constant use of homophony (which is used to astonishing effect for dramatic purposes, for instance at the five-voiced entry at ‘Viri Galilaei’ and at ‘quid statis’). There is an excursion into more florid writing at ‘Hic Jesus’, but this again returns to homophony to great effect at ‘sic veniet’. This consistent investment in homophony is explained by the sudden dazzling cascades of descending figures at the ‘Alleluia’, which make some of the most bright and shining music Palestrina ever wrote.
from notes by Ivan Moody © 1989