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Chansonnettes, Frisquettes, Joliettes et Godinettes
Full track-list at end of review
Doulce Mémoire/Denis Raison-Dadre
rec. Fontevraud Abbey, 10-11 November 2013

Happy 25th Birthday to Doulce Mémoire. They have given such enormous pleasure to early music fans in France but also on occasions here in the UK with their colourful live performances and their many CDs. This is a disc of some of their favourite 16th century French pieces and some of the best known and loved. There are even three karaoke tracks to offer a pleasure, which the group “want to share with you”. Let me explain further.
The group, who took their name from the 16th century Chanson by Pierre Sandrin, have always aimed to present renaissance music, to quote the cardboard CD case, as if you were “in the streets, the artisans workshops and the houses of the 16th century”. He says, “ you are bound to enjoy the free-spirited, popular cheeky chansons of the renaissance”.
There are twenty-four tracks here, nineteen of which are a mixture of 16th century vocal and instrumental items, chansons and dances. The last tracks are simply the instrumental accompaniments to three songs for you to sing along with. The first track Mon amant de Saint-Jean comes from the 1930s film of the same name, a true modern French chanson. This is sung most characteristically by Véronique Bourin. This is surely an example of a song well known in the streets and houses of France in the 1930s. The other 20th century song is La Complainte de la butte, a song popular, one assumes in the “artisans workshops” and all over France in the mid 1950s.
Doulce Mémoire consists, for this disc, of two singers, soprano Véronique Bourin and tenor Hughes Primard. There are seven instrumentalists including the group’s director Denis Raisin Dadre. Amongst the instruments are consorts of recorders, lutes and guitars, crumhorns and much else. If you have ever visited the Brittany Folk Music Festival, which takes place in Lorient during August, then you know the sort of traditionally-based sounds to expect.
The composers represented are the usual suspects — Janequin, Certon, Costeley — but a few other less-known characters appear which makes this disc not just a repetition of previous ones. Composers like Philippe de Vuildre, whose beautiful song Ja fille quand dieu is quite a highlight and Antonio Barges whose La Gallina is also quite highpoint. It even requires the singer to make hen noises. In fact many of the songs are given a definite sense of live performance with a few theatrical effects thrown in: sighs, gasps and laughs, for example. It all adds to the fun.
The booklet has nine monochrome photos of the group taken during their many live performances several in costume. We also get a chronology of their achievements over the twenty-five years and a brief essay about the aims of the group by Dadre himself. The only texts given, which is something of a disappointment, are the three songs that you are encouraged to sing-along to. The poets are mostly not known but significant figures like Marot and Ronsard are represented.
The recording is consistently clear and well balanced.

Gary Higginson
Full track-list 
1. Mon amant de Sant-Jean [4.02]
2. Nicolas du Chemin (c.1550) Pavane lesquercade [1.57]
3. Phillipe de Vuildre (?) /Tielman Susato (c.1500-1561) Trop penser & Bransle gay
4.Claude Gervaise (1525-1583) Nous estions trois jeunes filles [2.12]
5. Gervaise Bransle de champaigne [1.14]
6. Pierre Certon (c.1510-1572) J’ay le rebours de ce je souhaite [2.51]
7. Guillaume Morlaye (1510-1568) Gaillarde [1.50]
8. Clément Janequin (1485-1558) Ce beau coral [3.04]
9. Antonio Barges (?) La mia gallina [1.46]
10. Janequin Il était une fillette .[1.42]
11. Susato Pavane “La gaiette” Galliarde “Le tout” [3.58]
12. Jacques Mangeant (?) Jean de nivelle [4.09]
13. La complainte de la butte [3.28]
14. Philippe de Vuildre Je file quand dieu me donne [4.53]
15. Guillaume Costeley (1530-1606) Mignone, allons voir si la rose [1.53]
16. Jean Chardavoine (?) Mignone, allons voir si la rose [2.45]
17. Etienne du Tertre (c.1550) Pavane [1.29]
18. Anon Mon mari est riche, et n’est qu’un villain [2.40]
19. Nicolle des Celliers d’Hesdin (c.1520-c.1590) Ramonez-moy ma cheminée & Bransle de poictou [2.41]
20. Adrian Willaert (1490-1562) Allons, allons gay & Galliarde [2.21]
21. Certon Par un matin, la belle s’est levée [2.47]
And to sing along; Instruments only
22. Trop penser [3.11]
23. Mon mari est riche [2.41]
24. Mignone, allons voir si la rose [1.59]