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CD106   Daron Hagen: Songs



Daron Hagen: Songs

Susan Crowder, soprano
Bradley Moore, pianist
Sara Stern, flutist

  • 24-page insert with notes by Russell Platt
  • Biographies of the performers
  • Complete texts
  • 64'49" total playing time

CD106      $15.95

Purchase from Canticle Distributing


Love Songs (1988) Dear Youth (1990)
1. I Am Loved 20. The Bonnie Blue Flag
2. Little Uneasy Song 21. I Stop Again
3. Ah! Sun-Flower 22. The Picture Graved Into My Heart
4. Lost Love 23. The Trouble was Tom...
5. Washing Her Hair 24. The Lord Knows...
6. Requiem 25. O, for Such a Dream
7. The Satyr 26. Christmas Night
8. Sonnet 27...Silently Dispersing
Echo's Songs (1983) Merrill Songs (1995)
9. Never Pain to Tell Thy Love 28. A Downward Look
10. "I Am Not Yours" 29. body
11. A Dream Within a Dream 30. The Instilling
12. Echo's Song 31. On the Block: Mantel Clock
13. I Am Rose 32. Vol XLIV, No.3
14. Lost 33. On the Block: Lamp, Terrcotta Base
15. why did you go 34. Pledge
16. Since You Went Away 35. An Upward Look
17. Thou Wouldst Be Loved  
18. Look Down, Fair Moon  
19. The Mild Mother  

Listen Listen:

“O, for such a dream” from Dear Youth


Daron Hagen teaches at the Curtis Institute and studied with Ned Rorem. Text declamation in his songs is simple, but the underlying craftsmanship is complex. At the same time, the music is easy to listen to, often referring to the jazz of musical theater. The songs are deceptively laid-back; I suspect they are not easy to sing. Crowder’s sense of pitch is good, and she is aided by a clear voice and a controlled vibrato....

Stern (heard in Dear Youth) and Moore are excellent collaborators. Hagen’s sophisticated songs remind me somewhat of the AIDS Quilt Songbook and deserve to be heard just as often. Russell Platt’s extensive notes are affectionate, biographical, and analytical.   --The American Record Guide, Nov/Dec ‘97

Hagen's works are somewhat less conservative and more adventurous than those of his mentor [Ned Rorem]. This does not mean that they are by any means inaccessible; just the opposite is true. They merely present more interesting vocal and musical challenges at times. Throughout, listeners can pick up traces of jazz idioms and occasional hints of Broadway, leaving a distinct impression of Americana on the ear.   --David C. Bradley, Journal of Singing, February 1998

I think this is a release that needs to be heard by anyone interested in American song.   --John Story, Fanfare, Nov/Dec 1999


Artful Simplicity: The Songs of Daron Hagen

Daron Hagen is the finest American composer of vocal music in his generation and it has been my pleasure to know him these last eight years. In a sense we had met before our first encounter in New York in 1988, since we had both, at difererent times, been students of Ned Rorem at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Rorem is one of America's supreme masters of the art song, and his lessons were clear and direct. Music comes from language, and no one is going to provide us with an American song repertory unless we do it ourselves; never presume to repeat a word in singing that the poet has not repeated on the page; and always compose with the principle of economy uppermost in your mind. Daron, a musician of tremendous facility, came to Curtis with these instincts inborn, as his earliest songs show. I suspect Ned's job was to urge him on paths his heart already knew, not to radically change his already growing style. It is the fruit of that still-evolving style that we examine here, and enjoy.

Born in Wisconsin in 1961, Hagen has since become one of the best-known of younger American composers, a reputation that was being built while his musical studies (at Curtis, and at the Juilliard School) were not yet finished. Song has been a central focus of Hagen's output, and that output has been immense: he has composed over 300 songs since his teenage years. Like most of the notable song composers of the Western tradition, Hagenis a gifted pianist, and if his piano parts can range from a Schubertian simplicity to a Straussian lustiness, they always keep the singer's role first and foremost - the words are always clear. (Which of the younger Americans can match Hagen in prosody?) The good Gallic values of freshness, clarity and consistently elegant crafftsmanship - starting, arguably in Gounod and continuing forth through Poulenc and Rorem - find their mark in Hagen too, but are mixed with limited elements of American jazz and music theatre that betray him as a child of the suburban 1970s. The absorbtion of these materials doubtless helped along Hagen's gift for economy, while his superb general musicianship ensured that they would not limit his curiosity or his range - as if a young Fauré had to cut his teeth playing cocktail piano in Milwaukee. But this deeply American mixture shows that Hagen can't quite enjoy his French sexiness to the full but must temper it with a certain Protestant sense of shame, hard to pin down but impossible to ignore, seen not only in the choice of texts but also in the piano parts, which recede to the simplest gestures as much as they might show off their "chops." Perhaps because Hagen's music is consistently accessible, a certain perception as arisen in some quarters that it must always be friendly and unchallenging, but this is hardly fair. There is much darkness here, flickering here and there through the early cycles, gathering in Dear Youth and finding its final, measured culmination in the Merrill Songs...

From the notes by Russell Platt