Manchicourt set the words of the Magnificat canticle only once, presumably early in his career since it was published in 1534. Like almost all of his contemporaries, Manchicourt set half of the verses of the canticle polyphonically, the others being performed in chant. (The exception was Cristóbal de Morales (c1500–1553), who as a member of the Sistine Chapel choir followed local practice by setting all the verses in his Magnificat cycle.) Certainly the musical style of the polyphonic verses suggests an early date: their four-part texture is rather spare, in the manner of Richafort or other composers a generation older than Manchicourt is believed to be. Partly this is due to the heavy reliance on the second tone plainchant melody, which can be clearly heard in the first polyphonic verse at ‘in Deo salutari meo’ (‘in God my saviour’), where first tenors and basses, and then sopranos and altos, each have a string of repeated notes which mirror the recitation tone of the chant. Later in the canticle, reduced-voice sections create variety, with a low-voice trio for ‘Fecit potentiam’ (‘He hath showed strength’) and a soprano and alto duet at ‘Esurientes implevit bonis’ (‘He hath filled the hungry with good things’). Finally, the last two polyphonic verses are expanded to a five-voice texture by the addition of a second alto, Manchicourt heightening the effect of the ‘Gloria Patri’ with stretto imitative writing.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2007