SAN DIEGO — Under the baton of San Diego Symphony concertmaster Andres Cardenes, Wednesday's all-Mozart San Diego Pops concert was as much an evening with Andres as it was the advertised "Evening with Amadeus." If Cardenes' pops patter was less than eloquent--his best line was calling Mozart the Steve Martin of composers--and his conducting ungainly, his violin bow redeemed everything.
The program's centerpiece was Mozart's G Major Violin Concerto, which Cardenes delivered with his customary assurance and polish. Not even the damp night air of Hospitality Point could mar his brilliant cadenzas or sodden his lyrical flights. Cardenes' performance of the Mozart was elegant without appearing fussy, robust without sounding overbearing. His broad phrasing kept a highly energized sense of direction in proper classical balance. The orchestra followed him amiably and mirrored his enthusiasm for the piece.
Earlier on the program, Cardenes was joined by acting concertmistress Karen Dirks in the first movement of Mozart's rarely played Concertone for Two Violins and Orchestra, K. 190. The piece sounded like a concerto grosso in which a pair of solo oboes played second fiddle to the featured violin soloists. While it is a curious and not terribly profound piece, it demonstrated how compatible and pleasing Cardenes and Dirks can be in such a role. Music Director David Atherton is overlooking a delightful pair of soloists--right under his nose--if he fails to program these two orchestra members together in some future winter concert.