Article from an Amber tabloid, eleven years before Patternfall.

Duchess Does Nardi

The social event of the week was the Imbrocado String Quartet concert at the Marne. Numerous lords and ladies of the city were present. And for once, Gérard was not the only member of the royal family present. I spotted Julian in the audience, and rumor has it several more were present in disguise.

But enough name dropping. The worthies heard Jussy's lucky seventh string quartet, a luminous piece. This was only its second performance in the city, and yet in this critic's judgement it is already confirmed as a true classic. The audience didn't seem to agree, and as a whole only seemed to appreciate it during the mock march that was the second false ending to the last movement. For most of the rest of the hour it seemed all they could do to keep relatively quiet.

Probably they came only to hear the second number, a Nardi cello concerto written for Faris, who premiered it that evening. I went in expecting the worst, remembering the disastrous string arrangement of Corwin's Ballad of Laila decades after the fact. Yet I was pleasantly surprised. Nardi's writing for the string quartet was extremely effective, and if the piece was sometimes vulgar, it was more often sublime.

Even more surprising was Faris's commanding solo performance. True, she seemed to have difficulty with some of the harder technical passages. But the small young lady behind the big instrument had a tone rich enough for cello twice the size, warm and dark and filled with soul. With that presence, she commanded the piece without overpowering the Imbrocados. A wonderful debut, and one can only hope that the five musicians have similarly effective performances together in the future.

After the concert, I got in a quick interview with Lady Faris.

JC: A lovely concert. Your sound is quite impressive for such a slight creature.

Faris: Thank you! Truthfully, it's all in the instrument.

JC: That's hard to believe.

F: But true. Try it yourself and see.

I tried a few notes, though admittedly I'm no Donnelly. The instrument's tone is stellar, truly a world class ax. But she's exaggerating--coaxing the sounds she got out of it took something special.

JC: That is quite impressive. Who made the 'cello?

F: I did.

JC: You're a luthier as well?

F: Not really. I've just made a few instruments over the years.

JC: Surely more than a few?

F: I've always been good with my hands. And I had a great teacher.

JC: Any chance one of our readers convincing you to make an instrument for them?

F: If the job was interesting, and worth my while...

JC: Indeed. On a different tack, where did you learn to play? Your style is not that of most of the string players in the city.

F: I took up playing in the army. it was something to pass the time in camp.

JC: Really? How did you get around with it? I have this image of you riding a horse with a cello on your back...

F: It came with the supplies. And that's how I got experience making them--they kept on being destroyed.

JC: Forgive my saying so, but it seemed as if you were struggling with technique in a couple of spots.

F: I should have known you'd notice. Yes, this is a piece that I have room to grow into.

JC: So you intend to keep playing this piece?

F: Oh, absolutely! Nardi knocked herself out with this one. How could I give up that beautiful cantabile in the third movement? Or the cello duet which opens the fourth movement?

JC: Any plans for the future?

F: I'm trying to get my cousin Graeme to write a cello concerto, but he's taking his time with the project.

At this point, Princess Fiona stuck her head in the door, and Faris took her leave.