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Rastrelli Cello Quartet

The Rastrelli Cello Quartet has performed in concert halls world-wide including the Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Mariinsky Theater St. Petersburg, Lincoln Center New York, Beethoven Festival Bonn, Beauvais Cello Festival, as well as many others. They have recorded eight CDs, including "Cello in Classic" which was nominated for the "Record of 2008" in Russia and won the silver award. They perform the music they love, ranging from chamber music, jazz, klezmer, pop, and tango.


The quartet's thundering orchestral sound and showy virtuosity are exciting, and combined with their humor provides for a wonderful concert experience - delighting audiences world-wide. 



"Last night’s concert was as magical."  Janey Bennett, Bellingham Music CLub


"They were a huge success. Rastrelli has only gotten better. As always, they were their personable, charming selves and we had a great time with them. Thank you for making it happen!"  Alisa Bohon, Artistic Director - Arts at Abingdon

"The Rastrelli’s were wonderful."  Hans Sturm - Meadowlark Festival

"Riveting...Very entertaining...wild cheers...These four musicians could sound like a classical symphony one moment and play ragtime, jazz, klezmer or even a polka the next. They bring a whole new dimension to everything they choose to play." 
The Barrie Examiner, Ontario, Canada

“They are men on a mission. The Rastrelli Cello Quartet, four Russians living in Germany, is out to cross all genres.”  
Strings magazine, California, USA

“Rastrelli stands on the fundamentals of ensemble unity, responsiveness, virtuosity and spirited musicality”  
San Antonio Express-News, USA

“Teufelscellistenqualitäten…” The qualities of a Devil of violoncellist! “ 
Kieler Nachrichten, Kiel ,Germany  

“Einfach grossartig!”   „Just splendid!“   Heilbronner Stimme, Heilbronn, Germany 

“Unique is not only the cast of this quartet but their extreme ability, their unity and capability to fascinate the public.”  
Neue Züricher Zeitung Switzerland

“…each is a virtuoso in his own right, and together they play with a sense of musical purpose and personal camaraderie that is infectious”  The Irish Times, Dublin, Ireland

 “Filigrane Romantik”  “sophisticated  romantic”  Play, Moscow, Russia


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Keys Weekly, March 2022

By Asta Kraskouskas

Florida Keys Concert Association (FLKCA) started its second half of the season with the Rastrelli Cello Quartet. The quartet captured music lovers’ attention with their incredible performance and vibrant personalities.


The quartet delivered two consecutive concerts, one sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Thomas D. Wright at Marathon’s High School on Feb. 14  and the other sponsored by Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty at Coral Shores High School on Feb. 15.  The four cellists not only perfectly executed their program, but also warmed the hearts of the listeners with their enthusiasm and humor. 

The Rastrelli Cello Quartet originated in St. Petersburg, Russia. Their bond to the city is manifested in the name of the quartet. Bartholomeo Rastrelli was the 18th century architect of a few prominent historical buildings in St. Petersburg. The architect shaped the image of the city like nowhere else in northern Russia. With time, the cellists moved to Germany where they now reside.  

Kira Kraftzoff, artistic director and founder of the Rastrelli Cello Quartet, joked about the idea of a four cello quartet. In his words, there is a German joke about a string quartet. What is a string quartet? There are good violins, bad violins, four violins and hateful violins. Kiro, instead, came up with an idea of four cellos. Before he had started to create a quartet, Kiro heard skeptics ask, “Who is going to listen to four cellos? Every string quartet has a leading violin. Cello is just a background instrument.”

Twenty years later, the Rastrelli travels around the world and gets well-deserved recognition. Sergio Drabkin is one of the quartet’s founding members and one of four cellists arranging music for the quartet. He arranged and refined many works of various musical styles. In this concert the quartet played Sergio arrangements of Piotr Tchaikovsky, Edvard Grieg, Johannes Brahms, Giacomo Puccini, Sergei Rachmaninoff, George Gershwin and other composers. For the encore, the quartet played the Beatles’ “Michelle.”

The quartet ended its concert with the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” Kira, the founder of the Rastrelli Quartet, said, “You are the Americans. We are the Russians. No matter difference, we can sing together. Just imagine, if the leaders of the world would sing a song together, the world would be different the very next day.” The audience sang the song in unison with the quartet. 

“I loved every concert this season. I love to listen to classic and jazz,”  said Marlisa Gerrett of Marathon, a five-year season ticket holder. “It comforts me, like a comfort food. My mother is Russian. The quartet performers are passionate about what they are doing. Their music has very complex emotions. It’s inspiring.”


Best of
20 Years Anniversary

Folk Songs

Oh, Frost, Frost

Vdol po Piterskoy - Down the Peterskaya Road


Johannes Brahms

3 Hungarian Dances

Number 10, 14, 17


Astor Piazzolla

Oblivion - Fuga y Misterio - Libertango


Misha Degtjareff – Kirill Timofeev

Vocalize – 16th String Swing


Ennio Morricone

Gabriel’s Oboe from The Mission


Hans Zimmer

Pirates of the Caribbean



Misha Degtjareff – Kirill Timofeev

Blue Waltz - Old Boy


Shelom Secunda – Duke Ellington – Sergio Drabkin

Swing, swing, swing


Henry Mancini

Moon River

Pink Panther



John Lennon – Paul McCartney

Yesterday - Things we said today - If I fell

 Honey Pie - Michelle - Dizzy Miss Lizzy

The Best of

Sergey Prokofiev (1881-1953)

Five Scenes from “Romeo and Juliet”

“Knight Dance” - “Juliet as a young girl”

“Dance of girls” - “Masked Ball” - “Mercutio”


Ludwig Beethoven

Cavatina from String Quartet op.130


Johannes Brahms

6 Hungarian Dances


Edvard Grieg 

Excepts from „Peer Gynt“ 

Morning Mood - The Death of Åse - Solveigs Song

The Abduction of the Bride. Ingrid's Lament

 In the Hall of Mountain King




Giacomo Puccini

Air “E luchevan le stelle”


Bella Bartok

Six Rumanian Dances


Peter Tchaikovsky

Andante Cantabile from String Quartet Nr.1


Misha Degtjareff – Kirill Timofeev

Blue Waltz - Old Boy


Astor Piazzolla

Oblivion - Milonga in Re - Fuga y Misterio - Libertango


Shelom Secunda – Duke Ellington – Sergio Drabkin

Swing, swing, swing


The four gentlemen of the Rastrelli Cello Quartet began working together in 2002 and have devoted themselves ever since to exploring and experiencing the cello's world of sound. They are committed to tradition, but completely uncoupled from the conventional approach, which only serves as a solid foundation. Since then, the ensemble has built up a unique and broad repertoire, the likes of which can't be found anywhere else.

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 collaboration.

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 (Romania).

Kira Kraftzoff


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 Degtjareff


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


Kirill Timofeev, born in 1978 in St. Petersburg, began playing the cello at the age of five.

In 2001 he graduated from the St. Petersburg State Conservatoire, where he studied cello with Prof. Anatoly Nikitin and his assistant Kirill Kravtsov, and chamber music with Prof. Natalia Arzumanova.


During his studies in St. Petersburg he won a position in the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Yuri Temirkanov, but after 10 months of playing with the orchestra he decided to move on. Having moved to Germany he won a place in the Soloist class of Prof. Peter Buck at the Stuttgart Music College where he studied from 2003 to 2005.

A consummate and passionate chamber musician, Kirill Timofeev has appeared successfully in various chamber ensembles. This includes collaborating with renowned musicians such as David Geringas, Gilles Apap and Latica Honda Rosenberg.

Kirill Timofeev is a founding and active member of the 'Rastrelli Cello Quartet,' with the ensemble he has toured extensively, including the USA, Russia, Australia and most of Europe.

Kirill Timofeev has been invited to perform at many prestigious festivals, including the Rheingau Musik Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, the Schwetzinger Festspiele, and the Beethoven Festival Bonn (all in Germany), Boswiler Sommer and 'Viva Cello' in Liestal (both in Switzerland), the Beauvais Cello Festival (France), and the 'Rio Cello Encounter' (Brazil).

During these diverse concert tours, Kirill Timofeev has performed in some of the world’s most important music venues, including the Konzerthaus Vienna, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Stuttgart Liederhalle, Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Gasteig Munich, Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre St. Petersburg, and Suntory Hall Tokyo.

Kirill Timofeev is Principal cellist of Philharmonie Merck (Darmstadt, Germany), a position he has held since 2009.

Sergio Drabkin


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: 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.

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