On one level this is the most ‘purist’ product of Bruckner’s engagement with the principles of Franz Xaver Witt. Set in the old Church Lydian Mode (the white-note scale based on F) throughout, it contains no sharps or flats, no ‘dominant’ sevenths, and no six–four (second inversion) chords—the last two anathematized according to the supposed ‘rules’ of Palestrina’s time. The miracle is that it all sounds so effortless and natural, without so much as a hint of ironic or sentimental archaism. The central section (‘et lingua eius’) comprises some of the most serenely beautiful counterpoint in all Bruckner. At its conclusion, Os iusti dovetails skilfully into a plainchant ‘Alleluia’ celebrating the ancient wisdom of the Church.
from notes by Stephen Johnson © 2007