Dance wends its way through the four pieces on the Philadelphia Orchestra's present program led by Giancarlo Guerrero - bolero, the Charleston, and Martha Graham. No actual dancers appear, but movement and stories are left behind - as in an elegant reading of Appalachian Spring, the 1945 version of the piece Copland first called Ballet for Martha. Thursday night in Verizon Hall, the winds (flutist David Cramer, oboist Peter Smith, clarinetist Ricardo Morales) were vehicles of sincerity and simplicity.
Ears needed Copland's peace, given the rest of the program. Medea's Dance of Vengeance by Barber, even when it's not boiling over, is threatening to. Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F offered pianist Kirill Gerstein, whose big and bright sound and smart little cheats of rhythm here and there restored edge to a well-worn score. You knew the ride would be a wild one by the opening rush from the podium. After a while, much of the interpretive authorship could be ascribed to Guerrero, a generally brusque presence all night, and especially so in overlooking chances to stretch a rhythm or shape a melody. Alone, Gerstein made it clear that he saw Gershwin as expressive kin to Rachmaninoff. It made for a lovely connection.