Even though I consider Karajan the greatest maestro of his generation, as an accompanist he tended to exhibit faults I don't find when he's on his own. In both these concertos there's a concern for overall smoothness, mellow tone, and precise balance. Karajan's lovely young protegee, Anne-Sophie Mutter, matches his approach perfectly in the violin concerto. She spins one of the most consistent tones of any violinist and shows no desire to crowd the spotlight. The result wins admiration for being harmonious, but where's the individuality and drama? In the digital era the aging Karajan could be a little slack rhythmically, as happens here in the finale.
In the Double Concerto Mutter is joined by a young Brazilian cellist, still in his twenties, named Antonio Meneses, another Karajan protege, I suspect, whose career didn't soar like Mutter's. It's touching that a grand maestro should give the spotlight over to two young colleagues. Meneses is unusually lyrical and rhapsodist in the cello part, plaing with chamber-music sensitivity and gorgeous tone (amplified out of porportion by DG's engineers, as is typical in this work). Mutter matches Meneses in sensitivity; overall the performance is slow and inward, perhaps too much so for its own good. But at least it shows more personality the the violin concerto.