The formation of the Berlin Philharmonic String Quintet is unique: Unlike other quintets, in which a normal string quartet consisting of two violins, viola and cello is augmented by either a second viola or a second cello, the additional instrument here is a double bass. Thus all five string sections of the orchestra are represented, and the Philharmonic String Quintet goes beyond the conventional limits of a pure chamber-music ensemble – like the string quartet – to become a formation with symphonic dimensions.
Although there are few original works for the Quintet, which must rely largely on arrangements, the musicians have deliberately stayed with this combination: “In our experience, the sonorities in the compositions we perform this way gain enormously in depth.” The Philharmonic String Quintet grew out of a long-standing collaboration between Wolfang Talirz on viola, Romano Tommasini on violin and the cellist Tatjana Vassiljewa, since 2014 principal cellist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. It gave its first concert in 2007 in Belgium to great acclaim. Within a relatively short time the ensemble has achieved wide recognition and has now appeared throughout Europe and Japan.
Luiz Filipe Coelho began playing the violin at the age of four. He received his first lessons in his home town of São Paulo from Elisa Fukuda. He later continued his education in Europe: in 2001, he became a student of Ulf Wallin at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler Berlin, and from 2004 to 2005, he studied at the School of Music in Piteå, Sweden. He then returned to Berlin to attend the University of the Arts and perfected his skills with Guy Braustein and Axel Gerhardt. In 2008, he passed his concert exam there with distinction.
Romano Tommasini, son of Italian parents, completed his music studies in Paris in 1983 with a premier prix in both violin and chamber music. In 1986 he became premier violon solo of the orchestra of Nancy, and three years later came to the Berliner Philharmoniker. As a chamber-music player, he has been a member of the Philharmonic String Trio, the Pilharmonic String Quintet and the Philharmonic Camerata.
Wolfgang Talirz was already captivated by the warm, more personal sound of the viola while he still studying the violin. Three unforgettable impressions then led him to decide on switching to the lower instrument: a performance of the Telemann Viola Concerto by his school orchestra; a Beethoven cycle by the Juilliard Quartet in his hometown of Passau, in which he was so moved by the special timbre of Samuel Rhodes’s viola; and the radio recordings of Georg Schmid, with his unmistakable tone.
Described as a ‘phenomenon’, internationally acclaimed cellist Tatjana Vassiljeva’s ‘spellbinding virtuosity’ (The Telegraph) and irresistible range of sonorities are supremely matched by the strength of her musical personality and ideas and her ability to communicate them.
Janusz Widzyk first took piano lessons and was 13 when he began playing the double bass. He studied at the music academy in Kraków and in 1996 continued his training at the Cologne Musikhochschule. In 1997 the Bonn Beethovenhalle Orchestra engaged him as a principal bass, and three years later Janusz Widzyk took over the same position with the Hamburg Radio (NDR) Symphony Orchestra. Since 2001 he has been part of the double-bass section of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Widzyk is active as a chamber player with colleagues from the orchestra in the Berlin Philharmonic Camerata. He also appears as a concert soloist in many countries.