a few thoughts and quotes...
Imagination is a powerful tool that lets us transcend from here to anywhere. It is powerful enough in children to create a different reality. The more we are aware of our surroundings, the less we engage with our imagination. But it has to be paired with knowledge. Without knowledge and understating, pure imagination can be a false trait.
In music, without imagination the art is gone. But imagination has to feed on something. It's not coming just from within. The greatest geniuses on Earth had been studying their art all their lives. Their abilities to comprehend were stunning and fast, and their imagination blossomed, producing new paths, connecting what was impossible before with the help of intuition.
Intuition cannot be left to itself. One needs to be full with possibilities and questions to be able to trust intuition. After all, it's needs to choose between best solutions, not the worst ones.
A great writer requires a great reader.
The task falls onto a performer. We know how to make great sounds, vibrate, use various bow speeds, etc. Technique comes from great artists who used it in order to express what they felt and thought. Playing another Beethoven sonata with all that information surely will sound "good" but what's the point? Imagine a prophet that repeats the words of another prophet but instead of believing in them, he just repeats the words with a practiced expression. Is it really gonna cut through the skins and bones to the hearts of people? In a political campaigns - those with most energy and sincerity win over those who have great points but are passive orators. The sound has to carry your feeling and thought. Your imagination is the one that creates the connection between music you see and music you play for others. Great Slava said - sound is not important. It is your relationship with music that is important. Today there are far too many cellists that play without caring deeply for the music they perform. They do all the things they've learned, and they do them well, but the outcome is very predictable.
Playing a piece is like proposing to an audience through music - words of Rostropovich. You have to be sincere. It has to come from your gut, from you belief. But where do we find enough strength to believe in our musical choices? Studying. Not practicing, studying. It's all in the music, life, and context of the composer and his time. We need to feed our intuition with the most healthy and nutritious meals, then it will pay back with a confident choice.
Below is a video that explains to actors and audience members how to "read" a theatrical text. All musical markings and hints, and "genius" harmonic and formal changes are not for the audience - they are for us, to guide us. To help performers understand the music they play. If we take them as a guide - we can express more truthfully the meaning behind the text.
So after you fed yourself with information by reading, listening to your heart, to others, to other works, after studying form and harmony, you have to ask yourself what is this phrase, note, passage, page, expositions, movement, work about? And only then you can rely on your intuition that will help you decide - where is that phrase going and how I will shape it.
The score is a mere skeleton of what music really is. If you follow just the design of the score, the best you get is the answer that "this was a dinosaur or a cathedral based on bones and blueprints". Thats not enough. you have to be the animal, the priest inside. In words of Yo-Yo Ma - bad musicians show you the architecture of music, good musicians let you experience it.
Its like a guide that shows us painting by Seurat up close. We see every brush. As artists we need to be able to see the far away, and hear like an audience member, doing the details up close at the same time.