Despite its numerical closeness, Symphony No 50 (1773) was composed some eight or nine symphonies after No 48 and combines elements both older and newer than that particular predecessor. It has—and a relative rarity before the late Paris and London works—a slow introduction, which here clearly derives from the opening slow movement of the sonata da chiesa, an example of which we have already encountered in No 49 (the main part of the first movement is a hectic ‘Allegro di molto’). After the varied orchestration of the slow movements in the other symphonies recorded here, for No 50 Haydn returns to the strings-dominated pattern of his earliest symphonies—indeed the pair of oboes play only the most minor harmonic role and the first violin melody is doubled at the octave by the cellos throughout. The Minuet is novel in the way the trio is embedded motivically and structurally into the main body of the movement with linking passages, while the finale is an earnest ‘Presto’, finished off with a humorous coda.
from notes by Matthew Rye © 1991