Home > Reviews > NIGHT TRAIN TO LISBON – Annette Focks


nighttraintolisbonOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

Night Train to Lisbon is a German drama film directed by Bille August and starring Jeremy Irons. Based on the novel “Nachtzug Nach Lissabon” by Pascal Mercier, and written by Greg Latter and Ulrich Herrmann, the film is about a Swiss professor who saves the life of a woman and then abandons his teaching career and reserved life to embark on a thrilling intellectual adventure, following in the footsteps of a doctor who opposed António de Oliveira Salazar’s right-wing dictatorship in Portugal in the 1950s. The score for Night Train to Lisbon is by Annette Focks, who is finally starting to gain some international prominence, having been working tirelessly on films in the German film industry for many years.

Classically oriented, dramatically open, and beautifully orchestrated, the score is excellent; after a subtle, understated opening for a gentle piano and soft strings, the music opens up in its second and third cues, presenting a series of lush, hopeful, elegant themes for the full orchestra, often underpinned by a subtle ostinato effect – sometimes in the percussion, sometimes via a rhapsodic piano, sometimes from rumbling strings – intended to mimic the sound of a locomotive. Beautiful solo passages for piano, cello and violin weave throughout the score, most notably in the title track, and later in cues such as “Reflection”, the wistful “On the Boat”, “Raimund”, the reflective “Mourning”, “Last Memory”, and the stunningly beautiful “Credits” piece.

These moments of sweeping lyricism are offset by more intense action pieces, some of which are enlivened by an unexpectedly jazzy solo trumpet; the superb “Revolution”, the ominous “Mendez”, and the tension-filled “Terrible Memories”, give the score some depth and a sense of drama. However, possibly the most effective and expressive moments come when Focks introduces a gorgeous acoustic guitar, representing the traditional fado music of Portugal – cues such as “Travel to Lisbon”, “New Clothes”, and the lyrical “Love Feelings” are especially enlivened by this musical idea, the latter even more so when the guitar begins a duet with a soulful solo cello. I can’t recommend Night Train to Lisbon highly enough as a solid, enjoyable, engaging drama score, with just a hint of spice and passion to make it stand out from the crowd. If you haven’t explored Focks’s music before, this is would be a wonderful place to start.

Buy the Night Train to Lisbon soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Opener (2:59)
  • Travel to Lisbon (5:39)
  • Night Train to Lisbon (5:44)
  • Revolution (3:21)
  • Cemetery (3:11)
  • New Clothes (1:04)
  • Broken Hands After Mozart Sonata N.12 F-Dur (3:25)
  • Funeral (2:21)
  • Mendez (4:23)
  • Amadeus (2:15)
  • Reflection (2:29)
  • On the Boat (0:48)
  • Terrible Memoires (3:23)
  • Alone (1:13)
  • Jorge (1:58)
  • Raimund (5:48)
  • Thoughtfully (1:54)
  • A Present (3:40)
  • Mourning (1:22)
  • Drama (3:42)
  • Morning (1:31)
  • Love Feelings (1:13)
  • Escape (2:33)
  • Estefanias Memories (3:16)
  • Last Memory (0:59)
  • Credits (5:44)
  • Nunca é Tarde (Trio Fado Song Mix) (2:14)

Running Time: 78 minutes 08 seconds

Alhambra CD-A9013 (2013)

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