The all-Polish roster united pianist Krystian Zimerman and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in a crowd-drawing concert that was was ultimately well-received. They had brought with them an tenebrous programme of Lutosławski and Brahms, which displayed consummate artistry in both conception and delivery.

Lutosławski's Musique Funèbre begins with a grim twelve-tone melody on solitary cello, before successive canonical entries build up to a venomous climax and unwind to nothing in a great musical arch. There was something almost cultured in tonight's performance – not the visceral, guttural execution I had expected – and the prudent, well-balanced delivery of Lutosławski's interweaving chains initially left me feeling shortchanged. But after the climactic, punching chords of the Apogeum, where the orchestra produced a remarkable Titian colour, there was something of an exhausted, delicate catharsis in the return of the opening music that left what had come before feeling more like closeted odium than emotional disengagement. There is intelligence in pacing with this orchestra, which followed the music's contours to make full-sense of its peaks and troughs. 

Director Alexander Liebreich adopted an active approach with his conducting. In addition to his role at the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, he is Principal Conductor of Munich Chamber Orchestra, and he seems to have brought something of a chamber music ethic to this orchestra. It feels as if players are particularly in tune with one another and there is a particular concern for the overall tapestry of sound, resulting in a diaphanous quality that draws the ear to the relevant detail. Meanwhile, Liebreich pulls out choice details in a way that feels almost experimental – always searching, always sculpting – to add a coating of spontaneity and spark to these well-structured interpretations. 

Nevertheless in tonight's rendition of Brahms' Piano Concerto no. 1, you'd be forgiven for wondering who the director was – Liebreich or pianist Krystian Zimerman. In a change from the original programming, the Brahms was a replacement for Beethoven's sanguine Piano Concerto no. 5, which had promised to lend an interestingly polychromatic quality to the evening's proceedings. Any resulting disappointments were mitigated with a performance that was beautiful in its homogeneity.

Zimerman displayed the utmost musicality in the solo passages. A particularly disarming moment was an unaccompanied cadenza-like passage in the brooding first movement's Adagio, where a modestly elegant stream of rubato was twinned with piquant switches in colour. When the pianist rippled into the background, he was equally commanding, at one point casting an unwavering stare at the solo horn player for the sake of coordination. The 2nd movement's largo featured a captivating exchange of momentum between pianist and orchestra, whilst the third movement's rondo ended with a hop in its step that ensured the work's "darkness to light" narrative spoke strongly. A mutual sensitivity between orchestra and pianist produced the sort of parity between orchestra and soloist Brahms strove to achieve in his symphonic piano concerto.

There was a light feel all round to tonight's Brahms Symphony no. 1, where the first movement's stormy sections were always interspersed with oases of calm. The sweeter second movement only rarely overflowed.

Notable for its originality, tonight's fourth movement had an idiosyncratic treatment of musical features that illuminated even the gloomier sections of Brahms' score. There was a discernible ecstasy in the murky, churning chords at start of the movement and the subsequent, usually uneasy pizzicato strings had a certain playful quality. The joyous first theme, often likened to Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", was mock lazy in its first two successive renditions so that the third time around it was especially rapturous in contrast. And in a real moment of creativity, the brass chorale came from behind the audience, with the result that when the players returned to the stage to repeat the theme at the coda's cllimax, there was a real sense of finality. Atop this mass of detail, there was overall sense of shape that meant the momentum travelled resolutely to the final, exhilarating climax.

There was something pleasing in the coherence between tonight's works, which all depicted journeys from turmoil to an eventual resolution. What's more, when taken as a whole, the entirety of the programme had a corresponding sense of purpose, which progressed from brooding Lutosławski to an unusually bright rendition of Brahms' first. Evidently, great care has been taken in the construction of tonight's programme. That in itself wouldn't have translated into enjoyment of the music, but a similar concern for the form of the works themselves ensured that the sum of the parts were more than equal to the whole.