William Shield
(1748 - 1829)

Shield : Trio in Eb major : illustration

Trio in Eb major
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Allegro - Largo con sordini - Giuoco: Alla Sclavonia Tempo straniere con variazione

The published trios in Eb and A, together with unpublished trios in E and F, are remarkable for their, for the time advanced, use of 5/4. Shield himself is deprecatory about these movements: "The movements which are written in the uncommon time of 5/4 have amused some of the most distinguished professors, both in England and Italy, which induces the author to hope that they will not be disagreeable to the public at large". All are titled (in Italian) game, or foreign, or after the Slavic. But one wonders whether Shield was trying gently to introduce the educated English public to what sounds perhaps like the Northumbrian pipe traditions that he must have heard in his youth. A folk revivalist a century before any others, he would have had to pass off the outlandish sounding music of the people as not quite worthy of serious attention. Whatever; one wonders what the average provincial viola player made of triplets in 5/4.