While I must grant Stuart Howard whatever cup of tea pleases him best, I simply cannot fathom how he could find "Acis and Galatea" "relentlessly sugary-sweet." This music is sweet, yet it is a sweetness shrouded in a melancholy that is all the more profound for lacking all psychological and dramatic motivation, historical pomp, philosophical convolution, and all those other things that amaze small minds but only distract from the true wonder of mortal life. Where else, after all, are "depths" to be found than in love, beauty, joy, sorrow, death, the relation of Gods to Humans --- and what better stands repetition than a work which presents those passions in their purity whose own repetition and alternation is the ineradicable substance of life itself?
In the words of the poet Hölderlin:
Wer das Tiefste gedacht, liebt das Lebendigste,
Hohe Jugend versteht, wer in die Welt geblickt,
Und es neigen die Weisen
Oft am Ende zu Schönem sich.
(Who has thought the deepest, loves what is most alive,
He who has glanced into the world, understands high youth,
And the wise often incline
In the end to the beautiful)