The Salomon Orchestra launched into a blistering performance of the opening paragraph of Richard Strauss’s tone poem, Don Juan. It opened with a portrayal of a Don Juan of such indomitable vitality, that it left you reeling before it and more than happy to sink into the caresses of the seduced beauty portrayed in the first love scene, and it spoke volumes for the virtuosity of this orchestra. The oboe and the leader, Tara Persaud, delivered enchanting solos to melt the heart, and the great horn theme strode with heroic splendour over its high string tremolo.

The programme notes by Anthony Burton pointed out that the composition of Don Juan and the revision of Bruckner’s 8th Symphony occupied the same time in the late 1880s but, although Bruckner was a profligate proposer of marriage, he remained celibate - a polar opposite of Strauss’s strutting seducer. And indeed, in this programming Bruckner suffered badly: after the fluent sensuality and colourful eroticism of Strauss’s virtuoso display piece, the Bruckner symphony seemed monochrome and awkward - rather as the composer himself might have appeared to some of the young girls to whom he was wont to propose, and even his tenderest themes, such as the first movement Gesangsperiode (song period, first movement, second theme) or the Adagio second subject, paled in the shadow of Strauss’s lush brilliance, that had been performed with such vigour and élan in the first half.

I think it was not merely the programming that left the Bruckner symphony bereft of much of its potential: Andrew Gourlay’s interpretation seemed to busy itself relentlessly outside the still heart of the music, there seemed to be never a moment’s peace, and he allowed only the shortest of gaps between the movements. The strings that had overcome the extreme demands of Don Juan were never so secure nor so sweet in the Bruckner. But what a night it was for the horns! They were exemplary in both works, and the playing of the Wagner tubas in the Adagio had a wonderful sombre sonority. After the concert I overheard a small boy say to his mother that he liked the bit with the cymbals best, and so did I: it was a powerful climax for the Adagio, broad and resplendent. The Scherzo had been handled very well, very quick and without too slow a trio, and the mighty tuttis of the Finale stormed their way across the landscape with great power. But the coda, for all the glory of the orchestra’s accomplishment, sounded just like more of the same: the overall architecture of the work failed to register, even though the clinching falling semiquavers to crotchet with which the work closes were exemplary in their ensemble and rhythmic precision.

So although ‘London’s leading non-professional orchestra’ once again proved itself well worthy of its remarkable reputation, and the concert had begun absolutely wonderfully, the performance of Bruckner’s mightiest completed symphony did not quite shine as bright as I had hoped.