Kirill Kondrashin is an interesting conductor. He led the Concertgebouw Orchestra since his defection from Russia in 1978, had some successes but died of a heart attack in 1981. In those years he made some really well received recordings, of which this is one.
Before his defection, he was active and successful in his native Russia. He was born in 1914, and decided fourteen years later he wanted to be a conductor. He had a good musical background, coming from a very musical family. His performances of symphonies of Shostakovich were famous, and he enjoyed the friendship of the composer.
He died of a heart attack after having conducted Mahler’s first symphony as a stand-in, in the Concertgebouw. Unprepared and without rehearsal, the same way he died.