There may be as many as eight different Parsifals under the baton of Knappertsbusch, out there on disc, but thankfully the best one is commonly available. Don't listen to any of that nonsense about the 1951 performance being the best: Kna's 1962 effort is the best recorded and the most perfectly cast live document of Wagner's 'sacred play'. Those who call it an opera should think again. There can be no mistaking this work for mere entertainment.
Some of the greatest Wagnerians who ever walked the earth were at work in the 1960s and they all came to give the performance of their lives at Bayreuth this time around. Look no further than Hotter's Gurnemanz: a towering performance of incredible strength and humanity. London's Amfortas was already a classic portrayal, but a real gem is the superb Parsifal of the woefully under-recorded Jess Thomas. Two minutes of Irene Dalis' Kundry and you will understand how Wagner's final work could never be thought of as an opera. Her's is an intense psychodrama, a Salome with a conscience.
Even down to the subsiduary casting, we are in the company of greats. Paskuda and Stolze among the knights; Silja and Janowitz leading the flowermaidens. Freakishly beautiful stereo is the crowning glory of this recording, itself one of the glories of the gramophone. Philips' printed text and translations are excellent and the price tag makes this one unmissable. Only the new cover design is a let down. That's one advantage those of us who bought it back in the days when it was £70 have over you neophytes.
Have you got the guts? Then what are you waiting for? You can die content after this.