It may be my age, but those moments when a piece of music really hits me in the solar plexus seem to get rarer and rarer. But during my recent extended travels in India I was metaphorically punched time and time again when listening to ECM's Codona recordings on headphones. Recent posts have touched on the potential of virtual concert halls and the fact that no one mixes for speakers these days , and the Manfred Eicher produced Codona sessions from between 1978 and 1982 really demonstrate the impact of the up close and personal sound of headphones . The line up for Codona was African-American trumpeter Don Cherry, Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, and Colin Walcott on sitar, tabla, hammered dulcimer, sanza, timpani, and voice. The band took its name from a circus trapeze act of the early 20th century called the Flying Codonas , and the three albums packaged by ECM for CD as The Codona Trilogy capture the peerless musicians-beyond-frontiers performing their creative hig
I agree with just about everything you say. This is undoubtedly conditioned by my own experience, having started collecting at university in about 1964, when your choice was LPs ... or LPs. I've never viewed streaming as anything other than a substitute for listening to FM, with 2 modes - listening to a particular program which interested me (a broadcast of unfamiliar material, for example) or something for casual listening (there are a couple of internet radio stations which play excellent jazz playlists ideal for late evening listening).
I still listen to LP's, and buy a few out of curiosity. I have enough CDs that convenient storage space for LPs and CDs is becoming a problem. This leads to my one differing perspective from your post. I find that downloads have an increasing part to play, with mobility not being a necessary component. Disclaimer - I speak only for myself, of course, and if I started buying LPs in 1964, I'm clearly not in what you'd call a growth demographic.
Downloads don't replace the well-designed and elegant packages you mention (Jordi Savall et al). However, in a lot of cases, I find myself buying downloads rather than CD's. I'm talking particularly about companies who provide the same documentation with each (Hyperion and Linn, to mention only 2). I've even succumbed to the lure of a digital streamer which includes a CD player, and so all sources other than LP's are played through the same unit.
Downloads have some other (minority) advantages. Example - my downloaded music sits on a network-attached drive, and I can give a friend access to muic which they'd particularly like to hear. I can also access it from outside the home ("mobility", if you will), but that's a very minor item for me.
An aside - as I'm sure you know, the elegantly packaged "theme" set of CDs is not all that new. I'm looking at my copy of the slipcased 2000 Columbia/Legacy issue titled "Louis Armstrong: The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings." Four CDs, an extensive photo gallery, excellent essays, production credits - this is certainly not something where a download would be an adequate substitute.
And other more recent examples would include the DGG Bach Passion sets.
Collectable? Absolutely. I'd just put a bit more emphasis on downloads than I think you would. But why agree on everything? That would be dull ...
My big concern is that as the peripheral players such as Qobuz fall by the wayside, a few corporate giants such as Amazon and Apple will not only dominate the distribution of classical music, but also invest in content ownership. Which means that when Len Blavatnik grows bored with playing at being a record company mogul the EMI catalogue - and much more - could well end up being owned by Amazon - http://www.overgrownpath.com/2010/02/do-we-need-international-cultural.html