If he were in sports, cellist David Hardy would be dubbed "a natural." His fluid bowing and spontaneous way with a melody make the difficult art of the cello seem a deceptively simple game.

Last night in a recital at the Wolf Trap Barns, Hardy demonstrated some of the exceptional musicianship that in 1981 won him the assistant principal's chair with the National Symphony. Hardy's playing possesses what might best be described as a transcendent edge. This quality was evident from the first work on the program, Beethoven's fourth Cello Sonata in C major, op. 102, which opens with a reflective cello solo. Hardy began the line as if he were tuning into a music that had been there all along, hovering in the atmosphere, just waiting for his bow to bring it to audible life.

Benjamin Britten's Suite for Cello, Op. 72, allowed Hardy to show off his fine sense of color and dramatic timing. The closing G Minor Sonata by Rachmaninoff was nicely paced to give the surging romantic passages their full due.

Pianist Julian Martin joined Hardy as a partner in the fullest sense on the Beethoven and Rachmaninoff sonatas. Matching Hardy's intensity and lyricism, he proved equally responsive to the implications of the music.