Josquin cannot have been much above the age of thirty when he wrote the motet cycle Vultum tuum deprecabuntur
, and it may be a symptom of his still modest status as a singer at Milan and his relative inexperience as a composer that the work conforms so closely to established models. Like similar cycles written for Milan Cathedral by Compère, Gafurius, Gaspar van Weerbeke and others, the Vultum tuum deprecabuntur
motets were intended to accompany the celebration of Mass, not as interludes but rather as a simultaneous sacred ‘concert’: in some of the Milanese cycles the various motets have actually been labelled ‘loco [= in place of the] Introitus’, ‘loco Gloria’, ‘loco Credo’, and so on. Strictly speaking, such substitution did not interfere with the liturgical act: provided that the celebrant spoke the correct liturgical texts, the choir was free to perform whatever it liked. In practice, few churches outside Milan adopted this curious practice. Although parts of Vultum tuum deprecabuntur
found their way into the repertoires of other singers, there is no reason to believe that they were used in the Milanese fashion; most of the motets in the cycle address the Blessed Virgin Mary, and they could easily have been put to other devotional purposes. So scattered have the constituent parts of the cycle now become that their intended order is in some doubt. This performance follows the reconstruction by Patrick Macey, including the ‘little’ Ave Maria
as the Offertory substitute and Tu lumen
as the Elevation motet—neither being previously associated with the cycle.
from notes by John Milsom © 1992