Virginal Reviews

The New York Times

“This alluring, imaginatively scored short work with its fresh harmonic language (that could be called wrong-note consonance) abounds in spiraling flourishes of filigree, a nod to the ornate style of early-17th-century British keyboard music found in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.”

— Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, May 24, 2002


Time Out New York

“A winsome miniature with a brief but dazzling ostinato passage, Meltzer’s piece finishes far too soon.”

— Steve Smith, Time Out New York, November 20-27, 2003



“Meltzer wields a wide range of influences, from highly ornamented 17th century keyboard music to quasi-minimalist ostinatos, with such style and grace that it’s hard to decide whether his music or his ensemble deserves greater commendation.”

— Ken Smith, Gramophone, January 2004


American Record Guide

“We begin with Meltzer’s own Virginal, a well-made nine-minute composition in two continuous movements with Laimon as harpsichord soloist. Meltzer’s materials are all light and airy bits of diatonic music, but he juxtaposes and synthesizes them in a great many different ways, achieving something like a Stravinskian neoclassicism for the age of Bang On A Can. Meltzer’s approach to form — fragmentary but organic — is very much in line with his European contemporaries, but his nostalgic materials calls to mind both David Lang and very recent Ligeti.”

— Ian Quinn, American Record Guide, January/February 2004

“Speaking of integrative skill, Harold Meltzer’s Virginal performed the same feat with Renaissance stylings in a similarly modernist, quasi-tonal context. The contrapuntal music felt deliberate and rigorous in the same way that a 17th century fugue or an early 20th century serialist piece does.”

— Galen Brown,, March 27, 2007


Time Out New York

“Harold Meltzer’s appealing harpsichord concerto Virginal is well on its way to becoming a new-music repertoire staple.”

Time Out New York, September 21-28, 2010


The New York Times

“Inspired by Byrd, Bull and other Elizabethan composers whose keyboard music is included in the ‘Fitzwilliam Virginal Book,’ Mr. Meltzer deftly avoided writing a pastiche by adopting those composers’ structural processes instead of their melodies or harmonic styles.

He seems mainly fascinated with the way these composers built their works around tightly wound figuration. So he has supplied his own — sometimes for harpsichord (played gracefully by Aya Hamada) but more often for combinations of woodwinds, strings and percussion — and has woven them into a set of imaginative, rich-hued episodes.”

— Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, September 26, 2010


New Music Connoisseur

“It was a fascinating and continually engrossing work that had a Stravinskian feeling to it with the ensemble frequently employing overlapping rhythmic ostinati. A stopping and starting repeated-note passage shared alternately by winds and strings was especially beguiling, as was a trio for harpsichord, guitar, and harp, with subtle percussion commentary, to which the strings were gradually added. One remarkable feature of the scoring was the care Mr. Meltzer took to make sure the un-amplified harpsichord and guitar were always audible. Ms. Hamada, Mr. Sachs and the Juilliard musicians are certainly to be commended for their clear and ravishing account of this delightful piece.”

— Barry O’Neal, New Music Connoisseur, Vol. 19, Issue 1, Spring 2011