Monteverdi casts the setting in five sections, following various cues in the text. The first section runs from the initial ‘Gloria in excelsis’, with its thrilling virtuoso figurations, through to ‘propter magnam gloriam tuam’, where the word ‘gloriam’ prompts the return of those figurations to round off the section. The second section embraces the three invocations ‘Domine Deus’, ‘Domine Fili’ and ‘Domine Deus’, each set for two sopranos and contrasted with passages of concitato writing for the full ensemble, suggesting God’s power. In sections 3 and 4, Monteverdi sets the three petitions to God and the three statements of his qualities as though they were two strophic songs for two or three voices, with each petition or statement separated from the next by a passage for two violins. The last statement – ‘Tu solus altissimus, Iesu Christe’ – is then taken over by five voices as the beginning of the final section, in which the phrase ‘in gloria Dei Patris’ prompts Monteverdi to return again to the ‘Gloria’ figurations of the opening of the setting.
from notes by John Whenham © 2004