‘Solvitrambulando’ is a corruption of the Latin phrase ‘Solvitur Ambulando’. When the Greek philosopher Zeno explained his famous Paradoxes of Motion (those that seem to suggest that motion is theoretically impossible) to Diogenes the Cynic, Diogenes is supposed to have been unimpressed. In order to disprove Zeno’s theoretical abstractions (and in a manner befitting his title), he simply got up and walked across the room, announcing from the other side, ‘Solvitur Ambulando’ – ’solved by walking’. My piece takes this name partly because it’s useful for us composers to remember that common sense should trump abstract theorising every time; but mostly simply because whenever I am stuck with a composition, I go for a walk. This is how most of the puzzles and problems in the piece were solved.
The first section of the piece sees the strings acting like a resonating chamber for the more melodic wind parts – echoing and proliferating them. There follows a passacaglia, where a repeating twelve-note line drifts upwards from the lowest register of the orchestra to the highest and back again, surrounded by various textures including a recall of the opening. After a climax, there follows a sober, expressive Largo. This section is based on a Purcell Fantasia for viols, but the Purcell has been literally inverted – so upwards melodic figures now descend and vice versa – and altered in various other ways to mask its provenance. This (eccentrically) tonal music is never resolved however, and it gradually disintegrates into a pallid wash.
The piece was a Young Composer-in-Residence Commission from the Lancashire Sinfonietta
Instrumentation: Classical orchestra: 2 fl, 2 ob, 2 cl (2.=b.cl), 2 bsn, 2 hn, 2 tpt, strings (6,5,5,4,2)
Duration: c. 17″
Premiere: 22 March 2012 by Lancashire Sinfonietta, Andrew Watkinson (cond.), Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University Great Hall.