Chamber Music

Homage to Dmitri Shostakovich

This chamber concert with musicians of the Berliner Philharmoniker juxtaposes two works by Shostakovich: the Second String Quartet op. 68, written in 1944, and an arrangement of the last Symphony op. 141 authorised by the composer. This combination makes sense, and not only because the two works are in the same key. Both demonstrate a proximity to opera, though in very different ways.

Cornelia Gartemann Violine and Violin

Christoph von der Nahmer Violin

Julia Gartemann Viola

Knut Weber Cello

Heike Gneiting Piano and Celesta

Simon Rössler Drums

Franz Schindlbeck

Jan Schlichte Drums

Dmitri Shostakovich

String Quartet No. 2 in A major

Dmitri Shostakovich

Symphony No. 15 in A major (arr. for violin, cello, piano, celesta and 13 percussionistsby Viktor Derevianko)

Dates and Tickets


Dmitri Shostakovich composed 15 symphonies and just as many string quartets. These contributions to the two genres play differing roles in the composer’s oeuvre: the origin of the 15 symphonies stretched continuously across the half century of Shostakovich’s composing. In contrast, his string quartets were written after the Second World War, with the exception of the first one composed in 1938; the composer wrote more than half of them only in the last 15 years of his life. At that point in time, Shostakovich had already been caught up a number of times in the crossfire of criticism from Soviet cultural politics and the press under government control, and increasingly he had to proceed along a narrow path between social adaptation and artistic integrity – a humiliating experience that left its traces on his self-image as composer.

In this concert by musicians of the Berliner Philharmoniker, the programmed juxtaposition between Shostakovich’s Second String Quartet op. 68, written in 1944, and an authorised arrangement of his last Symphony op. 141 makes sense – and not only because the two works are in the same key. With movement titles such as “Overture”, “Recitative and Romance” and “Waltz”, the Second String Quartet, which, according to the composer, he composed with the “speed of a flash of lightning”, seeks proximity with opera and constitutes a notable counterpart to the 15th Symphony, in which Shostakovich inserted motives from Gioacchino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, as well as Richard Wagner’s Walküre and Tristan.

(c) Timm Koelln