I was wondering what the phrase "quite wretched" actually means, as in "The intonation however is [quite wretched]" or «“Schrödinger’s achievement,” Born continued, “reduces itself to something purely mathematical; his physics is [quite wretched].”».
Re: "Quite wretched"
Here, it means 'in a poor condition', or 'of poor quality'. For instance, "I feel quite wretched this morning" means "I don't feel very well". You might say it if you were suffering from a hang-over.
'Wretched' can also be used to mean 'contemptible', as in the traditional schoolmaster's utterance:
1. Wretched boy!
But it's not usual for 'quite' to precede it, in this sense.