Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32. No. 25. October 9, 1969
Sir.—As Mr. Marsh has pointed out in his letter published in Salient 24, Mr. Pretty's article on Wagner's Dark Horse Opera is not only badly written and in part plagiarised, but also displays a remarkable lack of critical perception. Indeed, the purpose itself of the article is far from clear. Is it intended as a record review, or as some kind of critical appraisal of the work.
If the former, the actual criticism of the performance is limited to saying that Wolfgang Windgassen gives "possibly his greatest performance". (Presumably Mr. Pretty has heard all the others). There is a paragraph about the reputation of the other singers (also from the record notes?) but nothing about their performances, nor about the performance of the orchestra Also there is nothing about the recording reproduction, surface noise, stereo effect, etc.
If, however, it is the letter, the list of sins of omission is even longer. Mr. Pretty falls to place the opera in the context of the whole cycle failing to explain the significance of such vital terms as "the ring" "siebelung", "Wotan" or "Wallbale". If we are to be assumed so simple, to need a crude plot summary which incidentally is as unnecessary as it is tedious, such synopsis being available in numerous books in the library, then presumably we need an explanation of these terms whether they appear in an earlir article or not.
Furthermore, this childish plot summary is the limit of Mr. Pretty's dramatic criticism, if indeed it can be called criticism, and saying that "the brass instruments have a field day" or that "the strings are there mainly to provide background music and filter" hardly fulfils the function of musical criticism. Also terms such as "fantastic", "most beautifully light and air" and "a wee bit fine" are too mouldy and subjective to be of any value.
What then are we to conclude the article to be but the ramblings of an irresponsible Wagnerolater who betrays himself in such witticisms as "if you find you have no taste for Wagner (i.e., you have not taste)".
Finally, I hope that in future your newspaper will refrain from wasting students' money in presenting us with the crap dropped from the ring of Mr. Pretty's hobbey-horse.