The Worcester Chamber Music Society’s first Spotlight Concert — the opening of a series of four hour-long, live-streamed programs the group is broadcasting this fall from Joy of Music’s Shapiro Hall — took place on Thursday night. For this inaugural installment, violist Mark Berger and pianist Randall Hodgkinson joined forces in an enticing mix of pieces by Arvo Pärt, Berger and Johannes Brahms.
The night’s most substantial offering was Brahms’ 1894 Viola Sonata no. 1. Originally written for clarinet but transcribed by the composer for viola, it’s a sober piece but a conspicuously hopeful one for a time of pandemic: The music begins in a crepuscular F minor but works its way over four movements to an exuberant conclusion in F major.
Thursday’s performance was well-directed and flexible. The lyrical viola lines in the brooding first movement sang fervently, while there was an amiable rusticity to the dancing gestures of