This cleverly planned programme, played with panache by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, was notable for its comedy. Haydn’s Symphony No 60, which is in six movements (although many of the audience applauded after the fourth), is actually a suite. It consists of an overture and five incidental pieces Haydn wrote for a production of a play, Le distrait( The distracted man) by Jean-François Regnard. The play is a farce and Haydn’s music is shot through with wit, more so even than usual. The most obvious joke comes in the finale where the strings stop to retune, playing in open fifths, after hitting a discord. David Robertson’s conducting was suitably – and deliberately – distracted from time to time, but his trademark precision ensured tight ensemble from the small orchestral forces. (It was also a distraction to see the double basses to the conductor’s left and the two harps, used in the later pieces, to his right.)

Richard Strauss’s highly pictorial Fantastic Variationson the subject of Don Quixote requires a solo cello to represent the central character. Rather than use an international touring superstar, this performance did as the composer intended and featured the orchestra’s Principal Cellist. Umberto Clerici did...