If do a search in Cafe Society for “classical” in the titles, you’ll get many threads with recommendations.
If you’re in or near a major city, you can probably borrow CDs from the library.
Since you ask for specific CDs, I’ll recommend a few I have. They may be out of print. Also, I have a weakness for stereo era reissues, and I’m sure there are many more recent recordings that are just as good or better.
“Weekend Classics: Nocturne” London 436 635-2. A great introductory CD. It contains mostly relaxing pieces. Has Barber’s “Adagio”, Vaughn Williams’ “Fantasia on Greensleeves” and “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis”, Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” and other popular pieces.
“Debussy: La Mer, Nocturnes, etc.” London 430 732-2. Also has “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.” The first nocturne, “Nuages” (“Clouds”) is quiet. But everything on this CD is great.
“Debussy: Piano Works” Sony SBK 48 174. Performed by Philippe Entremont. Has “Claire de Lune” from “Suite Bergamesque”, “Children’s Corner Suite”, and other beautiful pieces.
“Ravel: Complete Piano Music” Sony MH2K 63316. Performed by Robert Casadesus. This 2-CD set contains recordings from the 50s, so the sound is not quite up to today’s standards. However, Ravel himself thought Casadesus’ interpretations were excellent. You would probably be most interested in these pieces: “Pavane pour une Enfant Defunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”), “Ma Mere l’Oye” (“Mother Goose Suite”) and “Valses Nobles et Sentimentales”. Ravel later orchestrated these three pieces, but I prefer the piano versions.
Here’s one I’ve mentioned so often that people may be sick of me plugging this, but what the hey: Ravel’s ballet “Daphnis and Chloe”. It has been excerpted into two suites for easier listening. Make sure you get a version that includes a chorus. The second suite is a must listen, especially the sunrise section at the beginning and the bacchanal at the end. The CD I have of the complete ballet is London 400 055-2, performed by the Montreal Symphony and Chorus. It’s one of the best performances, but it’s recorded as a single track which makes it really hard to position to favorite spots.