The chanson Doulce memoire, by Pierre Regnault, "dit Sandrin" (ca. 1490-1561), is a simple melody elegantly wedded to poetry that evokes nostalgia for something everyone has experienced—a consuming, passionate love that exists only in bittersweet memory. This chanson was so popular that it was frequently reprinted and arranged in a variety of settings for singers and instrumentalists.
From 36 known arrangements, George Houle has selected 24 versions that require from one to six performers. Lutenists will find intabulations of varying difficulty, and the keyboard pieces range from the very simple to an elaborate fantasy by Hernando de Cabezón. There are virtuosic arrangements for solo viola da gamba as well as duos and trios for many combinations of voices and instruments.
These settings, coupled with Houle's informative text, illustrate the ways Doulce memoire was performed by Renaissance musicians. Some versions show the players conforming to the ideas of the musical theorists of the day, while others demonstrate how much freedom an individual could exercise. For today's musicians, the anthology provides invaluable information on musica ficta and ornamentation.
Houle's performing edition in modern notation includes both scores and parts, the latter ingeniously laid out so that pages simulataneously required by two performers are never back to back. Thus this appealing music is immediately accessible and in a format that is convenient to use.