She comes from Russia, he is Bulgarian, and together Alina Shalamova and Nikolay Shalamov form a duo, both at the piano keyboard and in their private life. Their joint career took off in 2015, when they won first prize at the ARD International Music Competition – a prize that has only been awarded twice in the category piano duo. At the Elbphilharmonie, the two keyboard virtuosos give the German premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s »Fantasy on the Theme of S-H-E-A« – a challenging work that the composer has dedicated to the important Spanish pianist and patron of the arts Paloma O’Shea.
Note: All Hamburg International Music Festival 2021 concerts are available to stream free of charge. Once premiered, each concert stream can be accessed for the whole festival period.
»This couple’s playing is nothing short of phenomenal.«
Juan Krakenberger, Mundo Clásico
An overview of all 2021 festival concerts.
Alina Shalamova piano
Nikolay Shalamov piano
Fantasy on the Theme of S-H-E-A for two pianos (German premiere)
Duration: 20 Minutes
About the duo
In the Shalamov Piano Duo, founded in 2009, two highly individual pianists and personalities come together in a remarkable symbiosis. Though young in years, Alina and Nikolay Shalamov have already chalked up some exceptional musical achievements. Among their greatest successes have been first prizes at the International ARD Competition, and the same year at the Piano Duo Competition in the Czech town of Jeseník, where they were also awarded the prize for the best Schubert interpretation.
Alina und Nikolay Shalamov trained as a duo at the National Academy of Music »Pantcho Vladigerov« in Sofia and at the Escuela Superior de Música »Reina Sofia« in Madrid. At the moment they are studying with Hans-Peter und Volker Stenzl at the College of Music and Drama in Rostock. To round off their training, they have taken part in master classes given by Jacques Rouvier and by the duo Tami Kanazawa and Yuval Admony in Japan and Israel.
Structure and freedom
E flat – B – E – A. Sofia Gubaidulina's »Fantasie über das Thema S-H-E-A« for two pianos opens with these four simple notes (Es, spoken »S«, is the German for E flat), yet they open up horizons of meaning in this highly complex work that point beyond a purely musical level.
The composition is dedicated to Paloma OʼShea, from whose surname Gubaidulina derived the main theme. The Spanish pianist with Irish roots is responsible for setting up a foundation, a piano competition and the prestigious music school Escuela Reina Sofía in Madrid, whose director she remains to this day. She has received many awards for her services to music in Spain.
The 2008 fantasy for two pianos combines a clear A-B-A structure with improvisatory elements. At the beginning and again at the end, the two pianists use the same instrument: one plays the theme on the keys, while the other hits the piano strings directly on the soundboard. In the work's middle section, a tense musical dialogue develops, which derives its very individual character from the fact that the two pianos are tuned a quarter-tone apart from one another. This can be heard particularly clearly when both pianists play the same thing simultaneously. Thus the work reflects the complexity of human cooperation in a handful of musical details. The fine balance between freedom and ensemble playing – and the fact that every person, just like every instrument, is an individual: the same notes sound different on different instruments, just as two people speaking the same words can mean quite different things.
Supported by Classical Futures Europe and the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union
The Hamburg International Music Festival is supported by the Kühne Foundation, the Hamburg Ministry of Culture and Media, Stiftung Elbphilharmonie and the Förderkreis Internationales Musikfest Hamburg