a celebration in words and music of the
first meeting of Coleridge and Wordsworth in
Reviewed by Michael Birtchnell
(The Coleridge Bulletin New Series No 6 (Autumn 1995), pp 53-55)
This was an evening of fact and entertainment held together by Reggie Watters, who provided a framework of biography particularly related to this area. The "first meeting" referred to might have been in Wordsworth's lodging across the road from the church, the Pinney house.
We were reminded that 200 years ago Coleridge spoke out
against slavery here in the financial centre of the slave trade, and that 1795
was a politically troubled time. Coleridge came to
If the relationship between Coleridge and Wordsworth
developed mainly in Nether Stowey rather than in
If the setting was biography, the jewels were the music.
It included Haydn's The Wanderer, Haydn himself having visited "Pristol" in 1794, and The English Sonata. The songs were settings of lyrical romantic pieces, mostly by Coleridge, contemporary and later, reminding us that such pieces continue to be written, played, and enjoyed. They were sung by Charles Gibbs and richly appreciated.
The climax of the evening was the first public performance of Nigel Dodd's setting of Wordsworth's Lucy poems. The word "setting" is appropriate, since the music allowed the poems to speak for themselves and sensitively complemented the direct and moving simplicity of the lyrics.
The self-styled anti-climax of the evening followed. Another
first public performance: of a doggerel, written by Coleridge, describing his
journey by coach out of
large and too public a place for an occasion which needed more intimacy. One would have liked to be nearer the performers.
The evening ended, as a soiree should, with a supper. All in all the evening was a most imaginative and creative mix.