Hammer time with the TSO

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra performed Mahler’s frankly-overstuffed Symphony No. 6 this week. Conducted with elan by Thomas Dausgaard,  the orchestra seemed to include every string, drum and horn player in the TSO directory.
Mahler 6 TSO hammer
Mahler’s own direction calls for three hammer blows, and is specific that they be “brief and mighty, but dull in resonance and with a non-metallic character (like the fall of an axe).” The TSO’s solution to this oft-debated problem was a hammer right out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. While wielding the ungainly mallet, the percussionist barely cleared the concrete balcony. My friend John Terauds over at Musical Toronto confirmed my suspicion that the hammer was custom made just for these performances.

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