In years to come, the HSO may be able to boast: 'You heard him here first.'
Alexander Karpeyev, a Russian student at the Guildhall School of Music in London, played the second piano concerto by Brahms with a rare blend of aristocratic authority and inward expression.
He knew exactly what he wanted to do and took the orchestra with him, not in a barnstorming, go-for-broke performance but in one that more impressively probed for deeper musical nuances.
This was highlighted in the slow movement, where he engaged the orchestra's principal cello, Stella Scott, in intimate musical dialogue.
He will be welcome when he returns to plays Brahms's first concerto next March.
The whole orchestra played with admirable finesse and depth of tone in the concerto under Peter Craddock, returning after a second hip operation and showing he left none of his musical or motivational powers in the operating theatre.
The playing was sometimes less secure in the less familiar Sinfonie Singuliere by Berwald, but the conductor successfully emphasised its points of unusual harmony and drew lovely phrasing in the slow movement's lyrical melody and in its return in the finale.