Cluck Old Hen Variations


"Cluck Old Hen" Variations and other works for strings
David A. Jaffe

Well-Tempered Productions WTP-5198, released November, 2011.

Click here to purchase Cluck Old Hen Variations on iTunes

Click here to purchase the CD from Terra Non Firma Press.



1] Who's on First? 6:44
Russian National Orchestra Double Bass Quintet: Rustem Gabdullin, Nikolai Gobunov, Sergei Kornienko, Viatcheslav Mikhailov, Mikhail Kekshoev

2] "Cluck Old Hen” Variations 10:19
Ann Elliott-Goldschmid, violin

3] Quiet Places 21:14
Paul Brancato, Sarn Oliver, violins; Christina Hyland King, viola; Eileen Moon, cello

4] Havana Dreams 18:54
Earplay Ensemble: Janet Kutulas, flute; Peter Josheff, clarinet; Carla Khilstaedt, violin; Robin Bonnell, cello; Daniel Kennedy, percussion; George Thomson, conductor

5] Whoop for Your Life! 15:45
Polish Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra of Krakow, José Maria Florêncio, conductor

Total Playing Time 73:00
All works BMI


Video of works represented on the CD (not the same performances as on the CD).

Program Notes

Who's on First? for five double-basses (2001) integrates elements of jazz in a light-hearted take on Abbot and Costello's classic routine. Commissioned by the Russian Arts Foundation for the Russian National Orchestra Bass Quintet. Recorded in Moscow.

Cluck Old Hen Variations for solo violin (2004) is based on the traditional Appalachian banjo tune “Cluck Old Hen.” The piece is in fact more of a fantasy than a traditional variation form. Numerous techniques and idioms from bluegrass music merge with classical material, to form a music that occupies the space between violin and fiddle repertoire. Recorded at the University of Victoria in Canada.

Quiet Places for string quartet (1996) – I first became aware of the "dawn chorus" of birds when living in a tent in a field outside of Ithaca, NY in the spring of 1975. Such “quiet places” are full of sound, often quite raucous, but there is always a sense of underlying tranquility that draws us in and brings to our attention our own inner noisy places: the preoccupations and worries that separate us from the world.

In this piece, "quietness" refers not to the dynamic level, but to the way time flows, to a kind of stillness bordering on sadness. The piece is in seven connected sections entitled “quiet place 1,” “breath,” “quiet place 2,” “mantra,” “quiet place 3,” “noisy place,” and “whisper song.” The recording is from a live performance at Louise Davies Symphony Hall on October 27, 1997, as part of the San Francisco Symphony Chamber Music Series.

Havana Dreams, for violin, cello, flute, clarinet and percussion (1997) is a "neural crosstalk" of recollections, longings, fantasies, hopes, contradictions, and disappointments, leaking into consciousness like faint voices over noisy phone lines in the steamy night. These emerge and recede, abruptly and gradually, sometimes logically, sometimes for reasons only intuitively grasped, like the tidal waters of the Malecon, like comparsa parade music as it approaches, halts, starts up again, passes, and fades. The recording is from a live performance by the Earplay Ensemble at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on February 23, 1998.

Whoop For Your Life! for orchestra (1986) was written after a visit to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge (Texas), where I watched the last of the Whooping Cranes feeding, courting, mating, nesting and raising young, oblivious to their precarious endangered status. It seems to me that we all live our lives that way. Commissioned by the Redwood Symphony and recorded in Krakow, Poland in 1994. — David A. Jaffe, July 2011