Conductus: Ave virgo virginum
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 1 Track 45
I suspect the lack of triads, particularly in final chords, and the wanton voice crossings in this work are enough to cause a modern listener to label this piece as primitive. This would be unfortunate as a good listening to this music can improve one's appreciation for so much of the 20th century repertoire. These two extremes share an interest in melodic line that is not obligated to meet harmonic formulas. And even the best Bach choral accomplishes its harmonic beauty as a consequence of line.
Structurally this piece is reminiscent of Perotin's Sederunt
in that there are three voices tangled in a lilting rhythm. This work has a very different mood because of a few significant differences. Without the ominous fourth voice the sound is less continuous and less oppressive. The phrase endings are more consistent here and the voices work together to present the text with clear diction. And so, instead of the severity of Perotin's quartet, this trio offers a gentle adoration of Mary.
What I like about this piece is more a feature of the poetry than the music. I like the brevity of the seventh line. Each strophe develops an almost hypnotic rhythm over six lines, then breaks it, then returns for two more lines. This piece is effective because it does nothing to upstage this elegant rhythm.