The soprano vocal is spectacular and while many can deliver it well, Mirusia Louwerse has mastered the art of presenting it with an equal mix of delicacy and power. I haven’t heard such an exceptionally talented soprano since Marina Prior. However, if there is a criticism to be made regarding Mirusia's style, it’s that she has a little sibilance in her vocal which is quite apparent during some songs. It is, of course, more prominent when listening on headphones, but still noticeable on speakers. That said, if you don’t focus on it, you’re unlikely to hear it.
My first exposure to Mirusia’s talent was via maestro André Rieu. Together they have produced an absolute masterpiece that will be enjoyed by generations of music lovers to come.
Whether you’re a classical music lover or not, you’ll likely be familiar with many of the tunes on Always & Forever. They could arguably be considered standards but are interpreted so well that Mirusia and Rieu have made them their own while staying loyal to the original compositions. The result is an astonishingly good series of performances and a recording that you'd be hard-pressed to fault.
Ave Maria (Live In Maastricht) is stunning and offers a perfect start this album. Mirusia's vocal control is exceptional and will resonate with your soul on this track. Without a doubt, this is one of the greatest interpretations of Ave Maria that I’ve ever heard.
Feed The Birds is a beautiful song, but Mirusia's sibilance is especially apparent throughout. It doesn't tarnish the song but it can be distracting.
Botany Bay is, by this stage, an Australian Classic. It’s performed beautifully and is a stunningly good interpretation.
Concerto Pour Une Voix is a song where Mirusia's vocal talent truly shines. Her soaring vocal becomes an instrument that communicates incredible emotion. Absolutely stunning!
Solveig's Lied is a beautiful song that I must admit I'm not familiar with. Nevertheless, Mirusia absolutely nails the performance.
Porgi Amor is beautifully relaxing.
Plaisir D'amour (feat. Carmen) is simply angelic.
Panis Angelicus (Live In Maastricht) is one of my all-time favourite classical pieces. Music doesn’t get much better than this and Mirusia does an incredible job interpreting the delicacy of the song. Spectacular!
Ich tanze mit dir in den Himmel hinein (2008 Version) is a lovely song, but that sibilance is back again. Thankfully, not as prominent as on Feed The Birds. That said, if there was a B-side to be found on Always & Forever, this would be it.
Memory (Live, Acer Arena, Sydney) is mind-blowingly good. I have always enjoyed this song and will always associate it with Elaine Paige as I feel her interpretation is still the one to beat. Although, Mirusia, at the very least, matches Paige's beloved recording of this classic song.
Con Te Partirò is another favourite, although I find it a little disappointing that Mirusia didn’t perform the song as a duet. Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman really set the bar high with their interpretation and while Mirusia performed it beautifully, I feel she could have taken it even further.
Send In The Clowns is a beautiful song and one that I most often associate with Barbara Streisand. Streisand’s live performance, on One Voice (Live), is second to none, but Mirusia interprets the song slightly differently, making it uniquely her own. Regardless, Mirusia's rendition is, however, thoroughly enjoyable.
There Is A Song In Me is lovely. Nothing to write home about, but lovely nonetheless.
Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again is an absolute classic and is performed beautifully. It’s a perfect way to close the album and ensures I’ll listen to Always & Forever again and seek out additional Mirusia recordings.
From start to finish, Always & Forever is pure perfection. Yes, there are a couple of minor quibbles, as mentioned throughout the review, but they in no way tarnish the album listening experience.
For this review, I have listened at length to the TIDAL Hi-Fi and Apple Music streams and found both to be exceptionally good. Yes, the CD-quality, delivered by TIDAL, is slightly more spacious, delivering an experience that simulates a concert hall, but even the Apple Music stream, via Apple’s AirPods, sounds incredibly satisfying and only the most fastidious of audiophiles would be disappointed in the lossy edition of Always & Forever. Frankly, when music is recorded, mixed, and mastered this well, you're going to be blown away regardless of the delivery method.