The six-voice setting of Regina caeli that opens the programme is based on an ingenious canon between the two upper voices. Although the pitch interval of the canon is consistently a fourth, the time difference is varied; the singers are instructed ‘sans souspirer ne chantez poinctz’ (literally, ‘do not sing at all without breathing’). The hidden meaning of this phrase is that the singer must omit all minim rests—known colloquially as ‘souspirs’ at this time—and also that all rhythms extended by a dot (‘poinct’) should be sung as if the dot were absent. Obeying these rules turns the smooth rhythm of the upper voice into an energetic, highly syncopated line, which begins two bars behind its neighbour and reaches the end of the motet’s first section two bars ahead. In the second section, the roles are reversed. Meanwhile, the four lower voices also adopt playful syncopated rhythms, as for instance the tenors at the beginning of the second part.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2007