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Allen Gimbel
American Record Guide, May 2018

I think Mr Hagan is at his best in vocal writing, which is not surprising given his background. If you’ve been somewhat hesitant about his non-vocal work, as I have been, this will be a welcome revelation.

Performances are good. © 2018 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Joshua Rosenblum
Opera News, May 2018

The soprano starts in a suitably melancholy Schubertian idiom, after a piano introduction that teases the original “Leiermann” piano part. When the tenor comes in, he intones a ghostly melody that outlines the intervals of a diminished seventh chord. The music builds grippingly and ventures afield harmonically, with the soprano veering into hair-raising sprechgesang on the line “And the dogs growl/Around the old man.” © 2018 Opera News  Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, February 2018

There is much very good music to hear on this program. And what of the performances? I will say straight off that pianist Laura Ward leaves nothing to be desired given the parameters of the works.

The seven song “Phantoms of Myself” (2000) with soprano Gilda Lyons is in performance and as Art Song stunning. The cycle covers a 24-hour day via the selected poem-texts of Susan Griffin, feminist and poetic strength. The cycle was initially commissioned for first performance by Ashley Putnam. Ms. Lyons brings her own magic to the songs. © 2018 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Laurence Vittes
Gramophone, February 2018

The magic starts with the first and longest track, the first of six songs that make up [Hagen’s] multilingual After Words, in which Justine Aronson and Joseph Gaines engage in an imagined conversation inspired by Schubert’s Winterreise on the nature of art and love. Along the way Hagen casually evokes sexy hints of Schubert, Broadway and serialism, before the music bursts into innocent lyrical love.

There is no let-up in quality with the Four Dickinson Songs, where Hagen catches the sparkle in each poem, including an extraordinary ‘Wild Nights’, and delivers its punchline with a musical solution that turns out to be unexpected—and right. The Four Irish Folk Songs briefly suggest Britten’s folk-song settings but focus more on richness than purity. Hagen’s florid setting of ‘Danny Boy’ as sung by Kelly Ann Bixby and Suzanne DuPlantis is quite sublime. © 2018 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2017

The American-born, Daron Hagen, is probably today’s most prolific composer of songs with 350 published, the present disc offering five 21st Century song cycles. Born in 1961, a graduate of the Curtis Institute and Juilliard School of Music, Hagen has become a highly prolific composer in many genres, his natural affinity to vocal music having its basis in melodic invention that is always interesting. Here he is in the world of song cycles, their basic format being the famous song cycles of Central Europe in the 19th century now seen through the eyes of modern America. Hagen also a career as a pianist, which gives him the ability to create keyboard scores that build the musical pictures the words suggest. The literary aspects cover a wide range of sources, from German poets in After Words; a mix of Americana in Songs of Experience, and the New York poet, Susan Griffin, for Phantoms of Myself. They are essentially thought provoking before we reach the rusticity of the Four Irish Folk Songs, and the sad words of Emily Dickinson. We have the texts for most of the tracks in the accompanying booklet, which helps focus ears on the singer’s diction. Hagen has invited the Philadelphia-based Lyric Fest, the organisation who commissioned After Words and the Four Dickinson Songs, to engage the internationally established singers to perform on the disc. They are the sopranos, Justine Aronson, Kelly Ann Bixby and Gilda Lyons; the mezzo, Suzanne DuPlatis, who forms part of the duet in Four Irish Songs; the baritone, Daniel Teadt in Songs of Experience, while tenor Joseph Gaines brings an English quality to After Words. Ears will take time to become accustomed to the rather strange sound of the piano played by Laura Ward. The presence of the composer brings a special accreditation to the performances. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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