Excuse me for echoing David Toop ("Toooop doggy, dooo-ooo-ooo-ooog!"), but I'd definitely argue that modern music's fascination with texture and tone color can be traced to Claude Debussy. One of my favorite composers, his Nocturnes are easily my favorite of his compositions--lush and rich, they are evocative and abstract without losing their ability to convey awe and wonder.
This particular recording is one of my favorites. The London Symphony Orchestra is conducted by the great André Previn through both the Nocturnes and his equally stunning orchestral work "La Mer". Part of what makes this such a stand-out performance is the recording. EMI's first commercial digitally recorded release, the engineering on this CD is spectacular. The sound stage is enormous, and every part is audible. This naturally adds a great deal to the intricate textures and timbres of the piece, putting Debussy's ground-breaking instrumentation in plain sight.