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Sometimes the eerie precocity of a child prodigy shows supreme technical brilliance but a lack of musical maturity and intuition. But in the case of 14-year-old cellist Han-Na Chang, the musical language comes as naturally as her exceptional technique. Since winning the Rostropovich International Cello Competition in 1994, Chang has appeared with the world’s foremost orchestras, spent her summers studying with Mischa Maisky in Siena, and made the customary professional rounds of virtuosos three times her age. On her second recording for EMI, Chang performs both of Franz Joseph Haydn’s rigorous cello concertos with astounding ease—disconcerting for a kid who will be starting the 10th grade this fall. Haydn’s C Major Cello Concerto, newly discovered in 1961, has become part of the standard repertoire for young cellists. It’s not as demanding as the D Major Concerto, but it does require a complete grasp of late Baroque-early Classical stylistic and performance nuances. Its Adagio movement demands restraint and an extreme delicacy of touch to make the long, fluid phrases flow while keeping the tempo slow but not plodding. Chang also surmounts the artistic challenge, as well as the technical gymnastics, in the first and last movements of the D Major Concerto, which dates to a later point in Haydn’s career, when he was writing for the virtuosos at the Esterhazy court in Austria. Prodigiousness is a tough lot, especially for very young children, who are often treated like trained monkeys or circus acts. Luckily, Chang has survived her toughest years. If she’s capable of such a solid performance at this age, we can only anticipate the potential masterworks her future promises.

—Amy Domingues