At #9 of the aworks Top Ten Tracks of 2004, it's Michael Jon Fink's Two Pieces for Piano. This is a quiet, simple set of slight variations on a small fragment played on the piano. It is similar to Alvin Curran's Endangered Species, although not quite as quiet and simple. Two Pieces, amidst all that solitude, manages some drama, especially the second song after it's softer predecessor'.
Ok, #9 and #10 are from the first two works on the Cold Blue compilation CD, originally pointed out by Kyle Gann. Both are examples of "west coast minimalism," both have a soothing, reflective quality, and both are about twenty-five years old. Just to make sure I am not about to discover I only listen to "relaxing" classical music for aging hippies, give me a moment and I'll peek at my #8. Just a second. Ok, no worry. #8 won't be confused with "soothing" music.
Actually, let me clarify. The Garland, Fink, and Curran works all must have substance to bear repeated, concentrated listening. On the other hand, that track from Satie with Ocean Sounds I recently downloaded, recorded with piano, synthesizer, soprano saxophone, and yes, occasional ocean waves, turns beauty into something vapid.
By the way, at the San Mateo Tower Records tonight, while looking in the ever-shrinking classical section for a Cowell CD, I found this very same Cold Blue 3-CD set. While I might complain it does not belong in the "C Composers" section, at least they had it in stock. Oh, Amazon does sample both the Garland and Fink works and also has a copy in stock.
Prior aworks post on the "beautiful" Two Pieces.