Liner Notes for the Melodiya LP RAM1-3 by H. Tauk

Under the auspices of the State Academic Male Choir, a new ensemble - the RAM-3 Quartet - began to function on the 30th of September, 1960, side by side with the already existing ensembles - the popular quartet RAM-1 and octet RAM-2. The initiator was Gustav Ernesaks, chief conductor of the Male Choir, who has always been an enthusiastic promoter of vocal ensembles, while Olev Oja, then a member of the Male Choir, became its founder and manager.

The RAM-3 Quartet now comprises: Konstantin Kasekivi, the choir soloist; Ole Valgma, choirmaster, member of the renowned vocal ensemble "Collage"; Vello Mäeots, singer, who also studies journalism at Tartu State University; Kaljo Räästas, Merited Artist2, whose concert programs are mostly made up of Estonian vocal compositions.

The Artistic Director of the Quartet is Olev Oja, Merited Artist2, a conductor of the Male Choir and teacher at the Tallinn Conservatory; the piano parts are played by Valdur Roots, Merited Artist2, an accompanist of long standing with the Male Choir.

The repertoire of the RAM-3 Quartet includes the works of Old Masters such as Morley's madrigals and Haydn's "Fool's Canon", as well as folk songs of European countries and other continents. A significant portion is allotted to Estonian vocal music which, in many cases, has been written especially for the ensemble, as for example, Anti Marguste's most exacting suite "Mina miesi"(Mannie-o-me). The years of collaboration with Veljo Tormis have been most rewarding. He has written a large number of unique folk song arrangements of great purity in the true national style. The repertoire includes many pieces a cappella, the rendering of which approaches the clarity and balance of a string quartet.

In addition to the long concert tours of the Academic Male Choir, RAM-3 has appeared in Moscow, and it sang in Mexico during the Olympic Games, also in Cuba, Finland, East Germany and England. Their concerts have been highly appreciated everywhere, thanks to Veljo Tormis' musical compositions in particular, as well as the folk songs of many other nations. Two TV films have been shown of the RAM-3 Quartet as well.

The first recording of the Quartet's performances gives some highlights of folk song renderings and some folk song settings by Veljo Tormis. The vocal character of the renditions has been worked out in close cooperation with the composer.

H. Tauk


(English version of the text from the original Estonian LP notes from 1974 with some grammatical adjustments and text additions made for clarity.)1. The acronym RAM stands for "Riiklik Akadeemiline Meeskoor" or "State Academic Malechoir" and was the common shorthand way to refer to that ensemble.

2. The phrase "Merited Artist" indicates that the person has been awarded the designation of "Merited Artist of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic". This was a way to signify achievement in the area of art and culture during the time of the Soviet Russian occupation of Estonia.