The polychoral motet O Rex gloriae by Portuguese composer Estêvão de Brito (c.1575-1641) is one of his three works for 8 voices, one of which – the motet Vidi Dominum – was published here recently.
Contrary to what I wrote in the previous post about Brito’s music, two of his polychoral works were in fact recorded, this being the second one. This motet comes from Brito’s manuscript choirbook of motet, the Motectorum Liber, which is now preserved at Málaga Cathedral. The folio where this work begins has the indication In Ascensione Domini, motetus a 8, which means that the work was to be sung on Ascension Day. This work is scored for 8 voices (SATB and SATB), with the antiphonal exchanges between choirs occurring very close of each other in a very fast way.
The ryhthm of the motet is very intense, with the use of small rhythmic values contrasting with section of long note values, using for example semibreves. This creates two forward movements and more contemplative moments, which make some sense if one looks at the text sections where these breaks occur.