I was wrong.
I dropped the cash to get Thielemann's Parsifal. After a few hours alone with the discs, I can say only this: shit. It was wonderful. No, really. It might, given the cast, the band, and the conducting, be better than Barenboim. In the Germanic repertoire, I still prefer James King to Placido Domingo, but that's taste versus reason. Thielemann lets the music breathe, he knows it has legs and he takes the score out for a walk.
Thielemann turns in a reading light-years ahead of his Tristan. This was no limpid, self-indulgent performance. This was Wagner as - I think - Wagner would want to be played. Thielemann takes the more traditional path in giving the music a pulse; he varies the tempo and more or less lets the music define itself. Boulez' Bayreuth disc takes the other approach: driving the score at a pretty regulated clip. A.C. Douglas prefers Thielemann's approach, and I think that Thielemann makes an excellent case for his interpretative stance.
Hell, I am so floored by this set that I am going to post to a couple other reviews:
I agree 100 percent with these reviews. Criminy.