Anyone who thinks the classical festivals season peaked with Daniel Barenboim’s Ring at the Proms may need to reconsider. Not only have the Proms continued in fine form – some heavenly Russian music from a grizzly Valery Gergiev is just the latest in a slew of exceptional concerts from the Royal Albert Hall – but the competition from elsewhere is hotting up fast. We already have six reviews from Edinburgh International Festival, as well as several from Salzburg and Mostly Mozart, and one from Aspen as well.

Verbier Festival © Nicolas Brodard
Verbier Festival
© Nicolas Brodard
We’ve even been in the Arctic Circle, for the Nordland Music Festival based in Bodø, where Aksel Tollåli has been treated to recitals including a recital from Anne Sofie von Otter and a performance of Steve Reich’s Different Trains in a railway station. There’s also been a handful of reviews from the #bristolproms (sic) and David Allen was in Verbier for some exquisite, starry chamber music too. Maybe the summer hasn’t been so short after all.

Not that it’s been all about the festivals: the Bolshoi Ballet have been in London, and Margaret Willis was taken with their “spectacular” Bayadère back at the start of the month. And our new reviewer Ilana Walder-Biesanz was at the whole of the Seattle Opera Ring cycle, with its stunning sets inspired by the Pacific Northwest.

Fidelio at EIF © Bertrand Stofleth
Fidelio at EIF
© Bertrand Stofleth
So what have the highlights been? Well, it’s tough to say, though both David Allen and Benedetta Saglietti were entranced by Venezuelan musicians from El Sistema in Salzburg: “Don’t let anyone tell you music isn’t relevant,” writes David, “it is.” In that concert, Sir Simon Rattle led an extremely young Venezuelan orchestra in Mahler’s First Symphony, and we’ve also heard Mahler’s Second twice in recent weeks, in both cases from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Mariss Jansons. At the Proms, Rohan Shotton wasn’t quite convinced – but maybe that was just the warm-up: three days later, David Smythe found it one of his best ever up in Edinburgh. David’s other recent Edinburgh assignment was not a highlight, however: a perplexing Fidelio from Opéra de Lyon and new-to-opera US director Gary Hill “failed on so many counts”, being set in outer space and with all the action taking place behind a thin gauze. There were Segways, though.

In its unostentatious way, perhaps David Lang’s new whisper opera has topped the bill: Rebecca was enraptured by this intimate, unrecordable experience, an exploration of people’s private lives through what they Google – “I could have been listening to my own insecurities wafting behind the curtains,” she writes. And yet she still gave it five stars.