The A major Sonata No 26 was composed in 1773 (a fragment of the autograph survives) and published in a set of six sonatas the following year—the first official publication of any of Haydn’s works—with a judicious dedication to his employer Prince Nicolaus Esterházy. The expansive first movement offsets its mock-military opening theme (horns are evoked at the outset) with rhapsodic excursions into the minor key. In the development Haydn makes something romantically expressive out of an extended chain of Baroque-style sequences. The second movement recycles, a tone higher, the charming palindromic Menuet al rovescio from Symphony No 47
of 1772. In both the minuet and the trio the music is played twice forwards, then twice backwards (for the player’s convenience the reversal is written out in the printed score). The finale is a disconcertingly brief (26-bar!) frolic, sounding like a rondo theme lopped off from the main body of the movement.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009