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Missa Doulce mémoire
5vv (6vv in Agnus Dei); based on the eponymous chanson by Pierre Regnault dit Sandrin (c1490-after 1560) published in 1537/8
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

'Rore: Missa Doulce mémoire & Missa a note negre' (CDA67913)
Rore: Missa Doulce mémoire & Missa a note negre
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Movement 1: Kyrie
Movement 2: Gloria
Movement 3: Credo
Movement 4: Sanctus and Benedictus
Movement 5: Agnus Dei

Missa Doulce mémoire
Missa Doulce mémoire takes one of the sixteenth century’s greatest hits, by Pierre Regnault dit Sandrin (c1490–after 1560) as its inspiration. The chanson Doulce mémoire was published in 1537 or ’38 by the Lyons printer Jacques Moderne. Its subject matter, like so many of its genre, is lost love:

Doulce mémoire en plaisir consommée,
O siècle heureux qui cause tel sçavoir.
La fermeté de nous deux tant aymée
Qui à nos maux a su si bien pourvoir.
Or maintenant a perdu son pouvoir
Rompant le but de ma seulle espérance,
Servant d’exemple à tous piteux a voir.
Fini le bien, le mal soudain commence.
Sweet memory consummated in joy,
O happy time of such understanding;
The loving steadfastness of our [united] love,
Which knew so well how to attend our ills.
But now alas has lost its [former] strength
Sev’ring the thread of my [one] only hope.
A sad example all afflicted see,
Cease therefore joy, for sudden evil comes.
translated by Frank Dobbins, from ‘“Doulce mémoire”: A Study of the Parody Chanson’, Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association 96 (1969–70), pp. 85–101

The opening melodic motif, tracing a descending diminished fourth, was one of the most recognizable themes of the century. Necessarily it pervades Rore’s Mass setting, yet its fame allows considerable freedom in adapting Sandrin’s music without the sense of the chanson being lost. The chanson is written in the Parisian manner, with a far more chordal than imitative texture, and Rore’s approach to Mass composition frequently emphasizes the text in homophonic style, rendering the two quite similar in style at times. The Mass setting however is in five voices for the most part, compared with the chanson’s four: as is common at this time, certain sections are reduced in scoring, though Rore is more sparing in this regard than many of his contemporaries. The middle section of the Credo (‘Et ascendit … sedet ad dexteram Patris’) is set for four voices, resting one of the tenor parts, and the Benedictus is a trio for cantus, altus, and tenor. The Agnus Dei is notated in two sections, of which the second adds a baritone part to make a six-voice texture: in fact the three text sections of this movement are divided in such a way that the six-voice section enunciates both the second and third sets of words, with an audible caesura between the two. As so often in the sixteenth century, the Agnus Dei brings out the best in the composer, but other movements of the Mass are also noteworthy for the text-driven expressiveness of Rore’s setting, for instance the Sanctus, where the exemplary text declamation of the opening section builds considerable rhetorical power; and the second Kyrie and ‘Et incarnatus’ of the Credo, both derived from the final couplet of Sandrin’s chanson.

from notes by Stephen Rice © 2013

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA67913 track 2
Recording date
9 August 2012
Recording venue
The Church of St Michael and All Angels, Summertown, Oxford, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Antony Pitts
Recording engineer
Phil Rowlands
Hyperion usage
  1. Rore: Missa Doulce mémoire & Missa a note negre (CDA67913)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: August 2013
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