Alma redemptoris mater / Ave regina caelorum
(23.2) represents a rare style of composition in which two plainsong melodies are elaborated simultaneously across a four-voice texture—‘a technical tour-de-force’, as described by Finscher. (This technique was no doubt influential on later composers, including Nicolas Gombert (c1495-c1560) and Jean Maillard (c1515-after 1570) who were each to combine no fewer than four plainsongs in one motet.) The soprano and bass voices mostly sing the Alma redemptoris
melody, beginning with its distinctive rising fifth, and the alto and tenor have the Ave regina
material. The opening references the earlier setting of Alma redemptoris
by Johannes Ockeghem (c1410-1497), though Fallows considers the piece as a whole more reminiscent of Guillaume Du Fay (1397-1474), in particular Du Fay’s late setting of Ave regina
. Now that Josquin is generally believed to have been in Cambrai in the mid-1460s, an association with Du Fay (who spent much of his life there, including his final years) makes excellent sense.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2021