Renowned British composer Richard Blackford sets the Greek fable of Niobe to music in the premiere recording of his new violin concerto, performed by Tamsin Waley-Cohen with the Czech Philharmonic under conductor Ben Gernon.
In the myth, Niobe, who has seven daughters and seven sons, mocks Leto, goddess of motherhood yet mother of only two children – Apollo and Artemis. In revenge, Apollo murders Niobe’s sons, while Artemis kills her daughters, and her husband Amphion, king of Thebes, commits suicide. Niobe in grief turns to Zeus for help, who takes pity and turns Niobe to stone; she continues to weep, however, for eternity, her tears flowing as a stream from the rock.
Waley-Cohen comments: “The Greeks saw Niobe as a warning against hubris, but what happened to her can also be interpreted today as a tale about the overly severe punishment of women judged to have stepped out of line. Her punishment seems so brutal, as does the punishment that many women face today around the world. Richard’s concerto is an incredibly powerful piece and a story that is so relevant to women’s issues today.”