The very personal bond that the quartet has with its home city of St. Petersburg is manifest
through the name they chose for their ensemble, inspired by the 18th century architect responsible
for a number of prominent historical buildings in St. Petersburg. Bartholomeo Rastrelli
shaped the image of the city in northern Russia like no other.
The Rastrelli repertoire consists almost exclusively of arrangements by Sergio Drabkin, one of
the quartet's founding members. Under the artistic direction of the charismatic virtuoso, Kira
Kraftzoff, Drabkin's refined compositions lead the quartet on a journey through an individual
and often unexpected musical landscape.
Each of the gentlemen contributes his unique character, experiences and perspectives to the
overall picture, and so two of the artistic director's former students, Mischa Degtjareff and
Kirill Timofeev, also members since 2002, contribute to the quartets ongoing success.
The four Rastrelli cellists only perform music that they themselves love—that's a matter of
absolute conviction when it comes to putting together their programs. The quartet usually
treats its audience with a mixture of arrangements of chamber music works, orchestral classics,
and standards of cello literature, as well as popular music, jazz, klezmer or tango.
The listener experiences a thundering symphony orchestra when Modest Mussorgsky's "A
Night on the Bald Mountain" sounds from the stage, and is then tenderly embraced by "Andante
Cantabile," a Russian folk song which Peter Tchaikovsky arranged for string quartet.
Perhaps you will hear the "Zigeunerweisen" by Pablo de Sarasate or Drabkin's "Paganissimo,"
which offers every musician plenty of room for virtuosity. Speaking of which... showy virtuosity
is an ever-present element which continuously accompanies the musical encounter. At the
same time, Rastrelli display in a unique way the incredible diversity of their instrument.
The art of transformation becomes, without exception, an authentic adventure in sound for the
listener. There are always four cellos and yet you think you are hearing an old piano playing
ragtime, a saxophone of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, or Piazzolla's bandoneon.
The Rastrelli Cello Quartet has recorded eight CDs to date, which present very diverse styles
of music and give an extensive survey of the repertoire of the ensemble. The CD "Cello in
Classic" was nominated for the "Record 2008" in Russia and won the silver award, only behind
Luciano Pavarotti's "Pavarotti Forever" (Universal Music). Two of the albums were produced
together with the clarinetist, Giora Feidman, with whom the quartet has had a long term artistic
Since its inception, the quartet has been a guest on festival stages, concert halls and radio
stations worldwide. These include the Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Berlin Philharmonic,
the Mariinsky Theater St. Petersburg, Lincoln Center New York, Beethoven Festival
Bonn, Beauvais Cello Festival (France), Rheingau Music Festival, Oberstdorfer Musiksommer,
Meadowlark Music Festival in Lincoln / Nebraska (USA), European Music Festival Sofia
(Bulgaria), Boswiler Summer Festival (Switzerland), Ohrid Summer Music Festival
(Macedonia), Linköping Music Festival (Sweden), Schleswig Holstein Music Festival, Rio
International Cello Encounter Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and the Bucharest Sonoro Festival
Kira Kraftzoff, leader and founder of Rastrelli Cello Quartet, Russian Quattro and Rastrelli Chamber Orchestra was born in 1971 in Leningrad, USSR (now St. Petersburg, Russia). Aged six, he started his studies at “The Special Music School for Highly Talented Children” of St. Petersburg State Conservatory, under tutorship of Prof. Mark Reisenstock. He had his public debut at the age of 14 with the Orchestra of St. Petersburg Radio performing The Cello Concerto by A. Khatchaturian in The Grand Concert Hall of St. Petersburg Philharmonic.
In 1987, he took part in the “All-Russia Cello Competition”, and granted a diploma there. In 1988, he was the youngest finalist ever in the “All-USSR Cello Competition”, winning a diploma and a special award for a “most brilliant perspective”.
He continued his studies with the class tutored by Prof. Anatoly Nikitin at St. Petersburg State Conservatory named after Rimsky-Korsakov, which he graduated with honors in 1994. On graduating, he was the assistant teacher of Prof. Nikitin's class for four years, as well as being a student of the legendary performer Daniel Schafran.
In 1993, he received the high distinction of representing St. Petersburg Conservatory in Mstislav Rostropovichґs first master-class in Russia after his long exile. As a partaker of a student exchange, he came to Stuttgart, completing his studies with Prof. Peter Buck (Cellist of the "Melos-Quartet") and graduating as a student laureate..
Mikhail (Mischa) Degtjareff was born in 1978 in St-Petersburg.
Entered specialized secondary music school of St. Petersburg Conservatoire in 1985, the cello class of E. Dernova.
Studied at St. Petersburg Conservatoire from 1996 to 2001 under professor Anatoly Nikitin and his assistant Kira Kraftzoff.
Took part in the concerts of the music school and the conservatoire, concerts of St. Petersburg Cello Ensemble under the direction of Professor A. Nikitin during his studies; played in the concert halls of St. Petersburg such as the Small Philharmonic Hall named after D. D. Shostakovich, Cappella concert hall, A. K. Glazunov Hall, etc.
Became a winner of the festival «Young Russian Talents» (in Orel) in 1996, a winner of the contest, organized by the Gartov fund «Friends of music in St. Petersburg» (St. Petersburg Conservatoire) in 1998.
Participated in the orchestra academy of the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in 1998.Attended cello master courses under professors Bernard Greenhouse, François Guille, Ulf Tishberiсk, Mainz (the trio «Fontane»), Kirill Rodin.
Studied the play of the original musical instruments under Maria Leonhardt in 1999.Graduated from Music Higher School in Stuttgart under Professor Peter Buck in 2005.
Composing classical, pop and contemporary music.
Kirill Timofeev was born in 1978 in St. Petersburg. In 2001 he graduated from the St. Petersburg State Conservatoire, where from 1996 to 2001 he studied music and cello with Prof. Anatoly Nikitin.
During the same period, he studied chamber music with N. Arzumanova as well as basso continuo and ancient music with E. Seredinskaja.
Furthermore, from 2003 to 2005 he studied at the Music College in Stuttgart in the soloists class of Prof. Peter Buck.
In 1997 he was the third laureate of the Pan-Russian Cello Contest in Voronesz, in 1999 he took the first place at the Caltanissetta Chamber Music Contest (Italy) as the cellist of a piano trio.
In 1998 he played in the St. Petersburg Philarmonic Orchestra under Yuri Temirkanov, and in 1999 and 2000 he worked with the "St. Petersburg Soloists chamber" orchestra under the direction of M. Gantvarg.
Kirill Timofeev gained valuable experience in the field of contemporary music by taking part in the various programs of the St. Petersburg institute of modern art "Pro Arte". He has successfully appeared in chamber ensembles and as a soloist at concerts and festivals in Europe, Russia and USA.
Sergio Drabkin Cellist Sergey (aka Sergio) Drabkin is in charge of the musical arrangements. Sergey Drabkin, born 1953 in Polotsk, Belarus, studied music at the Minsk State Conservatoire.
From 1977 to 1995 he enjoyed a high-profile musical career in Belarus: he was lead cellist of the Minsk State Symphonic Orchestra; he was a member of the Belarus State Quartet; he was solo cellist of the Baroque ensemble "Cantabile"; and he was solo cellist of the Minsk Chamber Orchestra, with which he made several recordings.
In 1995 Sergey Drabkin moved to Germany with his family. He now is a full-time member of the renowned Wurtemberg Chamber Orchestra, for which he has written several arrangements. He is also a co-founder of the acclaimed Rastrelli Cello Quartet, which plays exclusively his arrangements, thus contributing to Drabkin's growing fame as a master of the musical arrangement. (Discography and audio samples: www.rastrelli.de). A long experience of musical arrangements enables Sergey Drabkin to swiftly design and produce high-quality arrangements for all sorts of orchestration.
Sergio Drabkin has written arrangements for a number of famous musician such as King's Singers, James Galway, Irena Grafenauer, Michaela Petri ,Giora Feidman and Casal Quartet.