Taken from the Song of Songs, this fragrant and at times erotic text inspired one of Lassus's greatest motets, which in turn inspired the double choir mass of the same title. The Flemish master is at his most persuasive in this music, deploying the eight voices with consummate skill and variation.
The second half of the programme continues The Tallis Scholars' exploration of the contemporary composer Arvo Pärt with two of his finest motets, both to biblical texts. Pärt's particular world of intense simplicity and calm is often said to resemble the mood of some polyphony, and perhaps Tallis' Sancte deus shows this better than many. On the other hand Lassus' Timor et tremor takes one firmly back to the late renaissance with its daring experiments in chromatic harmony and disjointed rhythms. With Praetorius's third tone Magnificat the programme ends in a blaze of proto-baroque excitement.