Though numbered No 59, Haydn’s Symphony in A major was in fact completed before 1769. How it came to be named the Feuersymphonie
(Fire Symphony) is uncertain: it has been speculated that the music was subsequently used in a production of the play Der Feuersbrunst
by Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann, performed at Esterháza Palace sometime in the 1770s. In any case, the vigorous opening movement sounds remarkably akin to the concerto style of Vivaldi, with Haydn’s individuality less evident than in the other two symphonies; that is, until it reaches a dramatic pause which was to become typical of Haydn’s work, reappearing in later symphonies such as the Drumroll
(No 103). The following slow movement offers lyrical respite, initially played solely by strings but eventually joined by oboes and horns. The minuet includes a trio section lightly and intriguingly scored for strings only, which is hypnotically focused on twining first and second violins. The finale is launched by a horn call, an effect Haydn used again in the Drumroll
Symphony; though here Haydn regularly punctuates the movement with horn calls, giving the Symphony a festive as well as lively end.
from notes by Daniel Jaffé © 2015