I'm a bit taken aback that Haenssler should label excellent stereo from 1981 as a historical recording. Kondrashin died that year at the age of 67 - the day after his birthday, as it happens. His Mahler recordings took place with his own Moscow Phil., but the present orchestra of Southwest Radio in Baden-Baden and Freiburg was under Michael Gielen, an experienced and exciting Mahler conductor in his own right, so the chemistry must have been good - better, I suspect, than with any Soviet orchestra at the time. Mahler wasn't a regular part of the orchestral tradition there.
As the last completed symphony that Mahler wrote, the Ninth has often been heard by audiences as the composer’s swan song: a nostalgic, moving farewell from a composer conscious of his own mortality. This interpretation is of course easily justifiable, as etched into the musical fabric of the symphony are references to the tragedies that befell the composer in the years before his death.
The Symphony No. 7, nicknamed "The Song of the Night," is widely regarded as the most enigmatic of Mahler's cycle and the most difficult to coherently interpret as a symphonic structure, even by this composer's extraordinary standards. The movements are undeniably Mahlerian in their abrupt mood swings and ironic twists, and each offers a wealth of fantastic ideas and brilliant orchestration – arguably the most innovative sounds in all of Mahler's works.
Giulinis Mahler recordings are few but notable. The earliest is of the First Symphony, made in 1971 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra a performance that seems to radiate from within, full of delicate colours and telling details as well as a strong sense of architecture. Giulini conducted the Ninth Symphony for the first time at Florence in November 1971 before performing it on a number of occasions in Chicago, where he made his famous Deutsche Grammophon recording of the work in 1976.