That citation is so true...minus one thing.
Without Bach you cannot have freedom in the fingers, nor a clear and beautiful tone. Without Bach there is no true pianist. A pianist who doesn't recognize Bach is a bungler.
Substitute the word Bach for proper technique. Bach isn't the only source of pieces to build freedom in fingering. Bach isn't the only source in which one can bring maturity to tone quality. I do worship guys like Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin, but as a fellow human being, I can confidently point out Chopin's quote as a subjective statement. My point is not that one should avoid Bach, but that there are countless composers, and countless exercises that can cater to individual pianist, yet aim for the same ends. For me personally, I get no more pleasure playing through Bach's Inventions than I do with generic finger exercises. I hope that brings clarity in regards to the "Back muscles won't help with bench press" In our views, we are both referencing different and separate muscles fibers in the back. We are both referring to good technique, producing good tone...just different ways to go about it.
As for Bach not having soul, sillllllllly gorgeous guy you. Those words never left my fingers! That, I am sure of. Bach had plenty of soul...I listen religiously to his choral and orchestra pieces. I know that most of his works, he did in the glory of God. Though, you'd be surprised, not all of his works were done in the glory of god. Some of his works, even religious works were rip offs of secular pieces. Some of his works were composed simply for the instruction of his students (inventions, sinfonias...yah!). Some were composed for entertainment, or simply because he was commissioned to do so for a earning of sorts. Bach has more soul than my Grandma's cookings, but...as far as keyboard works go...I will say that Chopin, who's works are almost entirely exclusive to keyboard, conveyed more emotion. I can not name one piece Chopin has composed that had not soul, nor failed to paint strong imagery of sorts. Chopin, to my knowledge, never composed for instructional purposes. To me, Chopin embodies soul, as it was his MO for composing. He didn't use lyrics, he didn't set a scene upon which to composed. His only avenue was to let his melody do the talking. When I picture soul, I have to feel a strong emotional out pour from his works. I don't get that from his keyboard works. What I get is beautiful tone and execution...but it's too mechanical. When I picture Bach, I see him first as a mechanical pianist. Then second, as a soul poring choral/orch composer. In the latter, that's where I say Bach has soul...immeasurable rich soul. That same level of soul just doesn't show in his keyboard works.
As for playing, believe it or not, video game and anime music set the stage for me to begin tackling Chopin. Super Mario Bros...you have Koji Kondo to think for that. Or the Final Fantasy series...I am a die hard fan of Nobuo Uematsu. Believe me, there are a lot of video game, solo piano pieces that border the line of impossible when it comes to performance. Oh, and the difficulty/satisfaction ratio will be more than set at ease when it comes to video game music. Think of the number of video games...think of the number of themes from each game. Think of the number of remixes of themes. The number of pieces to play from in that genre, and the levels of difficulty are pretty much innumerable.
Anyhow, after a couple of years of playing video game music, I gained the skill to tackle Chopin pieces. I started out with his preludes, his slower waltzes and nocturnes. His Fantasy Impromptu was shoved in my face...like with most pianists, lol. His etudes Op. 10 No. 1, 2, 3, 12, were on my level. As for Liszt. that has been a slow transition. I'm bought a book for his transcendental etudes, but realistically, there are a few of them that are out of my league. I can play No. 1, 2, 3, 10. and 11. No. 4 is tiring, and 5 is worlds beyond what my fingers are capable of at such speeds. His Liebestraume is lovely. With Liszt, it's a bit of a challenge to pick a piece at my current level. All the same, he has countless number of pieces. Not counting his transcriptions, Liszt has a HUGE repertoire of pieces he composed in his lifetime.
Hmmmm. Chopin's Prelude Op 28 No 4...it's overplayed...maybe...I think. But it doesn't take away from the beauty of his piece. To have his own prelude played at his funeral...no amount of overplaying can take away from that. Hey, what are a few of your favorite prelude/fugue combo's you'd suggest for me to listen to? I do think it's about time for me to get reacquainted with Bach to build my sight reading and such.