The second of Northcott’s cycle of antiphons sets a version of the plainchant Alma redemptoris mater
in the top line against two other simultaneous Marian texts—the bottom line also being governed by isorhythm. This was composed for three male voices, but the composer has happily agreed to it to be transposed up for soprano and alto chorus. In this piece, Northcott carries forward the three-part sonorities of early fifteenth-century music in the works of John Dunstaple, Leonel Power and others. A closer comparison might be made between this work and the setting of the same Marian text attributed to both of these composers, since this has a more contrapuntal texture and opens with a simple exposition of the opening phrase of chant, as in Northcott’s setting. As in his Salve regina
there is a gradual increase in momentum and tension as the piece progresses, but a particular feature of the work as a whole is Northcott’s deployment of detailed performance indications in the score, with subtle variations of dynamic and accent emphasising the character of the lines.
from notes by Geoffrey Webber © 2006