Three Silent Things
song cycle for voice and piano trio (1984)
13 April 1984
Curtis Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Karen Hale, soprano / Michaela Paetsch, violin / Lisa Ponton, viola / Robert LaRue, cello / Daron Hagen, piano
Walt Whitman, Robert Graves, Christina Rosetti, Jack Larson, Robinson Jeffers, Adelaide Crapsey, Paul Goodman, Wallace Stevens (E)
1. I Depart as Air (Walt Whitman)
2. Despite and Still (Robert Graves)
3. Ferry Me Across the Water (Christina Rosetti)
4. Do I Love You? (Jack Larson)
5. Pitiless God (Robinson Jeffers)
6. Three Silent Things (Adelaide Crapsey)
7. Specimen Case (Whitman)
8. Rain (Paul Goodman)
9. Now That I Love You (Graves)
10. A Clear Day and No Memories (Wallace Stevens)
The song cycle Three Silent Things was completed by Hagen on 13 February 1984 in Philadelphia and first performed at Curtis Hall by Karen Hale, Michaela Paetsch, Lisa Ponton, and the composer while Hagen was still a student. The first professional performance was given on the Washington Square Contemporary Music Series on 2 October 1986.
— Burning Sled, 2003
Daron Hagen's Three Silent Things, a setting of 10 poems by such diverse authors as Adelaide Crapsey, Robinson Jeffers, Paul Goodman and Wallace Stevens proved a stately, chimerical work. Scored for piano quartet and soprano, the work is lyrical in its utterance and spare in its rhetoric. There is very little tutti playing, and the soprano is as likely as not to sing an entire poem as a duet with one of the instrumentalists. Mr. Hagen's esthetic is varied but concentrated -- a stark, proclamatory opening leads directly to a gentle cello solo; there are many such surprises throughout the work. Three Silent Things was written for Karen Noteboom, who sang it with a sweet, full tone and an appropriate dignity.
--- Tim Page, The New York Times, 10/5/86
Three Silent Things, a 30-minute work for soprano, violin, viola, cello and piano, composed by Daron Hagen in 1984, is curious music for a young man to have written. A couple of the 10 texts he sets are unusual choices, like the Adelaide Crapsey poem from which the title comes. But most of the poets, like Walt Whitman and Robert Graves, have been frequently turned to by American composers. The work begins with a Whitman text set to stern, proclamatory music with hints of 12-tone complexity. Soon the piece shifts modes and wistful tonality predominates. The composer deftly mixes spiky rhythmic restlessness, jagged instrumental lines and crunchy chords. ... Brenda Harris was the sensitive soloist.
— Anthony Tommasinni, The New York Times, 6/5/98