Force & Freedom

TV-Premiere | July 11th 2021 23:25 pm | ARTE

Force & Freedom - Beethoven between compulsion and freedom

After the stream was already available online on ARTE Concert at the beginning of this year, we are looking forward to the TV premiere in summer 2021.





"a cinematic-scenic search for traces, which in the poetry of minimalist abstraction and allusion repeatedly incorporates signs of pandemic presence...an eloquent approach to a music that is overshadowed by almost "holy" seriousness without doing it violence... In any case, Beethoven's late quartets have not been heard so intensively for a long time..."    - nmz

"Even in this late phase, it is still about these classical contrasts, which Beethoven differentiated very finely and infinitely. And this theatre collective now uses this to make listening visible with scenic means. [...] a very multi-layered picture that can be interpreted in many ways, but always related to Beethoven, and that is already strong!" - Deutschlandfunk Musikjournal  

On ARTE Concert, Nico and the Navigators, together with the Kuss Quartett, premiered their production "Force & Freedom" from 21 December. The Staged Concert is dedicated to the life and work of Ludwig van Beethoven, whose 250th birthday was commemorated this year. The film recordings are produced together with EuroArts: https://www.euroarts.com/tv-license/6825-nico-and-navigators-force-freedom.

What does it mean to appropriate the late pieces of the great composer with all one's senses today? How have these sensations changed in the here and now? How do they relate to our current experiences? With Opus 59, No. 3, the Holy Thanksgiving Song, the String Quartet Opus 135, the Great Fugue as well as three adaptations of Beethoven songs, Nico and the Navigators together with the Kuss Quartet go on a scenic and cinematic search for traces - from the historical sources to their own present in the pandemic year 2020.

The work, whose title "Force & Freedom" varies the motto "tantôt libre, tantôt recherchée" ("partly free, partly rigorous") borrowed from the Fugue, was already overshadowed by a radical change in reality shortly after rehearsals began in the spring: Not only did the Corona pandemic mean that the premiere at the Schwetzingen SWR Festival for 2020 had to be cancelled, but the ensembles' joint work was no longer possible for the foreseeable future. Suddenly, the words constraint and freedom, which were originally meant to outline coordinates in Beethoven's life, became a direct experience for all those involved. How would dancers, singers, musicians and performers meet in a confined space in the future? How would the audience fit into such a situation?

The fact that the economic constraints that Ludwig van Beethoven had once suffered would also become more acute for almost all independent artists in the course of the crisis was not even foreseeable at the time. First and foremost, it was about the barely bearable distance, the isolation and prevention of work that depended on exchange.

Nico and the Navigators, together with the Kuss Quartett, had already made a virtue of this distress in the spring by countering the threat of resignation with small messages from the shared present in isolation. Thus, a crisis diary was created in digital space (https:// tagebuch.navigators.de). Of course, all those involved were painfully aware that these virtual encounters could not offer a full-fledged substitute for direct artistic exchange. So it is all the more gratifying that a film could now be made in place of the Berlin premiere, which was also cancelled in the second Lockdown.

Beethoven's String Quartet Opus 135 provides a model for insight into necessity. In the fourth movement, under the title "Der schwer gefasste Entschluss" (The Difficult Decision), there are two mottoes that situate the work between rebellion and surrender: "Must it be? It must be!"


A production of the Schwetzingen SWR Festspiele and Nico and the Navigators supported by the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe. Funded as part of "BTHVN 2020 - nationwide" by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Co-produced by the Konzerthaus Dortmund. In cooperation with the radialsystem. The streaming is produced by EuroArts and Nico and the Navigators in co-production with ZDF/ARTE.




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