NMC Guest Playlist #7: Nicky Spence

7th September 2022

Playlists NMC Recordings

In the seventh instalment of our Guest Playlist series we're delighted to share a playlist curated by opera singer Nicky Spence. Winner of the BBC Music Magazine Personality of the Year 2022, Nicky's unique skills as a singing actor and the rare honesty of his musicianship and communication have earned him a place at the top of the classical music profession.

We're delighted that Nicky's made this contribution to our Discover platform. Explore his eclectic and imaginative selections below.

1. Leoš Janáček: Sinfonietta: Allegretto - Allegro - Maestoso
Janáček is my favourite composer of all time… I will gush ad nauseum. Unlike me, his music is lean and without faff. Straight to the honest heart of the matter, he’s as essential as Mozart to my musical landscape.

2. Jason Robert Browne: On the deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492
Jason Robert Brown was one of my early teenage obsessions. He changed the voice  of music theatre and I always come back to him in a moment of nostalgia.

3. Claudio Monterverdi: Scherzi Musicali - De la bellezza le dovute lodi
Monteverdi was the granddaddy of opera and in a language which was almost invented for the genre. In terms of dramatists, he’s hard to beat.

4. Quincy Jones: Somebody Gonna Love You
Cynthia Erivo has one of the rarest qualities in her voice. It feels as if she’s singing directly from her soul into your ears alone.

5. Emily Smith: Edward of Morton
Similarly I love Emily Smith’s voice. This tale brings in so many landmarks of my childhood, it resets my compass to home and makes me earthbound wherever I am in the world.

6. Huw Watkins: Vocalise - Loch Lurgainn in the Sunshine
I adore Huw Watkins and in this dizzy music world, I feel he has a truly unique voice. This is a beautiful example of what he does best.

7. Eddi Reader: Brose and Butter
Eddi Reader holds a special suite in my heart. This foot thumper brings me back to when I played in a Ceilidh band in my teens. 

8. Alban Berg: Lulu Suite - 4. Variations
I fell in love with Berg in my twenties and particularly Lulu. His music is like an explosion on the page, a series of mini big bangs which explode into more than the sum of their parts in performance.

9. Richard Wagner: Die Walküre - Ein Schwert verhieß mir der Vater
Jon Vickers is my dirty guilty vocal pleasure. He’s a beast of a man with a voice to match. Subtle, no. Committed, yes. And in Wagner, he’s unstoppable! 

10. Jonathan Dove: A Brief History of Creation - XII. Monkeys
I’ve sung a lot of Jonathan’s music and it always makes me smile. I always site him as a terrific poster boy for what music can do for new audiences. All hail!

11. Buxton Orr: Ten Types of Hospital Visitor - III
Naughtily including one of my own tracks here… typical tenor! I had to include it as it contains the rarest of duos - tenor and double bass. With words by Charles Causley, it’s obsurd in the best possible way. 

12. Judith Weir: Don't Let That Horse
Jane Manning was such a beautiful exponent of new music. She made it human,  approachable and sang in a way which was inimitable in her generosity. She is   missed.

13. Jonathan Cole: Tss-k-haa
Lovely to hear Roddie (the nicest man in showbiz) playing all parts of his palatal grandeur in what is a celebration of what is possible in the mouth.

14. Benjamin Britten: Les illuminations, Op. 18 - No. 5. Marine
As a British tenor, I couldn’t not include Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. This live recording shows them at their tightly wound best and I applaud the wee inaccuracies here and there which make us and them feel more human.

15. Dave Lee: Taste the Groove - Hot Toddy Radio Edit
Disco is my bread and butter in my dressing room… and it doesn’t get better than the conglomerate of joy which is Horsemeat Disco so take the floor! 

NMC's Guest Playlist series features a broad range of curators who we invite to share their all-time favourite music, with selectors ranging from musicians to artists to presenters to critics and beyond, you can always be sure of an interesting and eclectic mix.

Check out Guest Playlist #5: Rakhi Singh
Check out Guest Playlist #6: Jessica Curry

NMC's Discover platform is created in partnership with ISM Trust.

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