We have just arrived in Amsterdam from Regensburg, after four days of their fabulous annual festival Tages Alte Musik. Regensburg is an ancient mediaeval town in Bavaria that is one of the very few in Germany to escape the destruction of World War II and its streets of old baroque houses, leaning buildings, and magnificent churches give you an uncanny sense of being in another ancient world.
Over four days, 16 concerts are given in these extraordinary old churches and mediaeval halls, mostly large, and even cavernous, and some with the most extravagant rococo decoration. Hearing wonderful, mostly unfamiliar music from the 15th to 18th centuries, mostly featuring period instrument and vocal ensembles from all over Europe, was really inspiring and gave us many touches of the sublime in music. Particularly memorable for me were Musica Fiata & La Capella Ducale in a re-creation of a Mass for the Reformation festival in Dresden in 1617 at the Dreieinigkeitskirche, Ensemble Alia Mens singing Bach cantatas at the amazing Church of out Lady, and the English vocal ensemble the Gesualdi Six singing Tudor music of England late at night in the huge Scottish Church. As a contrast to all the early music in these solemn and beautiful churches, we had a whole day in the magnificent countryside including a spectacular boat trip down the Danube gorge.