With due respect to the Smiths of Fountain Valley (Orange County Letters, Jan. 2), who were mystified about the qualifications of Chris Pasles as music critic, I think it is clear that Pasles' qualifications are simply those exhibited by Martin Bernheimer for so many years: a sour disposition and an acid pen. As to "Why Pasles?"; well, if Bernheimer, then why not Pasles?
Indeed, Pasles appears to be trying to surpass the old master himself.
Pasles conjectured that soprano Roberta Peters' "stage whisper" to conductor Keith Clark (review of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra's New Year's concert, printed Jan. 2) requested and achieved, with only a few words, a unique enlivenment of turgid tempi, into which Clark and the orchestra almost immediately relapsed. Pasles' claim is nearly baseless, and so silly as to be almost unworthy of comment.
But this isn't the first time that Pasles has speculated on a soloist's communications with Clark. If memory serves me correctly, Pasles also claimed in an October review that a clarinet soloist attempted to correct Clark's tempi by "nodding" at him. My wife and I attended that performance. While the clarinetist played magnificently, his mannerisms were eccentric. He nodded, bobbed and wandered around the stage as he played, and seemed unable to end a phrase with a high note without rising to his tiptoes. If any of this was a message for Clark, it could have been clear to no one. Except, perhaps, to that subtle and perceptive rascal, Pasles.