Duo Shalamov
Video on demand from 14 May 2021
available until 14 May 2025

Shalamov Piano Duo

2021 festival: In a concert stream from the Elbphilharmonie, the award-winning duo presents the German premiere of a challenging new work by Sofia Gubaidulina.

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 (Shalamov Piano Duo) Alina Shalamova (Shalamov Piano Duo) © Philipp Seliger
Nikolay Shalamov (Shalamov Piano Duo) Nikolay Shalamov (Shalamov Piano Duo) © Philipp Seliger
Shalamov Piano Duo Shalamov Piano Duo © Philipp Seliger
Shalamov Piano Duo Shalamov Piano Duo © Philipp Seliger
Alina Shalamova (Shalamov Piano Duo) Alina Shalamova (Shalamov Piano Duo) © Philipp Seliger
Shalamov Piano Duo Shalamov Piano Duo © Philipp Seliger
Shalamov Piano Duo Shalamov Piano Duo © Philipp Seliger


Alina Shalamova piano

Nikolay Shalamov piano


Sofia Gubaidulina
Fantasy on the Theme of S-H-E-A for two pianos (German premiere)

Duration: 20 Minutes

The artists

Duo Shalamov

Duo Shalamov
Duo Shalamov © Philipp Seliger

The music

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.

Sofia Gubaidulina
Sofia Gubaidulina © Peter Fischli

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

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